Report from Fr Jamal

Holy Land Committee Chair, Fr Jamal Khader, has been a parish priest in Ramallah since August 2018.

Ramallah is located in the central West Bank six miles north of Jerusalem and serves as the administrative capital for the Palestinian National Authority. Historically an Arab Christian town, Ramallah is now predominantly Muslim, but with a significant Christian minority representing 22% of the total population. The change in demographics is due to the migration of Muslims to the area, and the emigration of Christians.

After 18 months in his new role, Fr Jamal has provided the report below, which provides insights into life in the parish. He explains, that even though the Christian community in Ramallah are poor, they are doing what they can to support each other. 

However, there is an urgent need for more funds to extend support.

Report from Fr Jamal  - Parish Priest in Ramallah

The Life of the Christian Palestinians under Occupation 

What FHL is doing is to touch the hearts and lives of many Christian individuals and families. 
It is a sign that Christian love transcends borders and distances to meet in the love of Christ.”

“Jesus said, “you will always have the poor among you”. 
We face this reality every day and that is why the solidarity of our brothers and sisters is needed.”

“When the economic and political situation gets bad, the most vulnerable and the poor suffer the most. This is the situation for many Christian families who live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In the last few months, we have witnessed political developments that appear to block “hope” for a future of peace and justice in the Holy Land.  The steps taken by the Trump administration regarding Jerusalem, their cutting of economic aid to the Palestinians, the cutting of financial help to the UNWRA, the settlement policy of the Israeli government, and the lack of interest of the international community are just some of the developments that drive many to lose faith in a better future.

As a parish priest of the Catholic community in Ramallah, I notice the increasing number of requests for financial help, regarding health, education and daily basic needs. Although nothing can replace a just peace to improve the economic situation of Christian families, urgent help cannot be overlooked. As a parish priest and as Chairperson of the FHL local committee, the poor and the needy come first. With limited resources, we are always encouraged by the little that we can provide, but we are saddened when we cannot offer help to more poor people. 

We are blessed with the generosity of local Christians who contribute to help other Christians. At Christmas and at Easter, we launch a campaign for the poor; the results exceed our expectations. Last Christmas, after launching the campaign, we prepared a list of needy families; when contributions began to arrive, I noticed an envelope with a small donation coming from one of the poor families we intended to help! The “coins of the widow” was a source of great joy! At the same time, what Jesus said about “you will always have the poor among you” is true. We face this reality every day and that is why the solidarity of our brothers and sisters in the churches is needed.

The “Council of Churches in Ramallah” is a gathering of the priests and pastors of all Churches in the city. We collaborate together and we organize prayers and social initiatives. It is a sign of hope for many Christians as we set an example of many other communities on the ecumenical collaboration. We share our joys, hopes and frustrations too. 

We feel that our mission is to do what Jesus himself did: giving priority to the poor and the oppressed and open new horizons to all human being for a better future.

by Fr Jamal Khader - Chair of FHL's Holy Land Committee 

The pictures below were taken at Sunday Mass at the Church of the Holy Family in Ramallah