Christmas cards to the Holy Land

By Steve Atherton, Justice and Peace fieldworker

For the last 10 years we have been sending Christmas cards from our diocese to Catholic parishes in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which is the name of the Catholic organisation that looks after parishes in Israel/Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus.

This year we are encouraging the sending of cards to the most marginalised people, those in the West Bank and Gaza – the Occupied Territories. If you are only going to send cards to one parish, I recommend you choose Holy Family in Gaza. Last month their parish priest, Fr Mario da Silva IVE, sent an email thanking me for a Christmas card he had just received that had been posted the previous December from somewhere in our diocese.

He said: 'Thank you for your concern about the situation here. Believe me, it is a really difficult situation. About the Christmas card I must to confess that it is a personal joy for me and for my parish to receive every year your cards. It is a joy to know that many people are concerned about our situation. So I advise, if it is possible, to continue to send these cards.'

Postal deliveries to the Occupied Territories are, at best, haphazard and we advise posting to the Patriarch's office rather than directly to parishes. If the cards are put into parcels, this is not very expensive.

Cards should be addressed to your chosen church/churches and then sent as a package to the Latin Patriarchate's office from where they will be delivered to the parishes. For each of the last eight years, the thousands of cards sent using this method have reached the parishes in Palestine. If cards for Gaza arrive in Jerusalem by early December, the Patriarch himself will take them to Gaza.

Do not post a card directly to a parish but send it to:

Mr Sami El-Yousef
Chief Executive,
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem,
Jaffa Gate – Old City, P.O.B. 14152
9114101 Jerusalem

The J&P office would be delighted to send you a full list of parishes and schools in Israel/Palestine and
parishes in Jordan. The list is also accessible via the front page of the diocesan website (see 'Christmas cards to the Holy Land appeal').

Do not forget to include your contact details on the cards, and for parishes wishing to act together, I would
suggest the following course of action:

• Explain the system to your parishioners.
• Distribute names of parishes.
• Collect cards and sort into churches.
• Write a note to each church for the parish priest to read out to his congregation. This will help them to
understand where the cards have come from and why they have been sent.
• Post all the cards together to the Latin Patriarchate's office in Jerusalem.