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Greetings from Jerusalem

By Fr. David Steffy, L.C., Chargé of the Holy See

June 6th, 2024 - Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center

Dear Friends of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center,

Greetings from Jerusalem, united in our prayers and intentions for peace in this month of June when Catholics reflect more deeply on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


I am writing this letter as I finish directing a retreat for seven brothers of the Salesian Order who will be ordained deacons on June 9. The Patriarch, Cardinal Pizzaballa, will ordain them at the Church of the Nations, Gethsemane on the Mt. of Olives. They will remain in the Holy Land for another year to finish their studies in theology and become priests. It has been a blessing for me to be able to lead them in prayer as part of their preparation for diaconate and a life of service in the Church as witnesses of Christ’s love for the world.  A world that seems to be more broken than ever. The commitment of men like these reminds me that self-giving love is the answer to healing divisions that can divides us.


Their ordination and renewed consecration are a moment of grace and light here in the Holy Land at a time where a cloud of darkness still seems to hover over us. It is true that for us living here, we feel safe. We have little fear of random acts of violence that seems to be part of the daily lives of people throughout the world. In fact, I am shocked to read about the violence and high crime rates that seem to plague most major cities. So yes, most of us feel safe.


At the same time, the war in Gaza, and the fighting in the north weigh heavy on all of us, as we experience the suffering and loss of life that comes with war. I think most individuals are seeking peace and many are finding their voice by creating opportunities to foster peace in their hearts, families, and communities. I thank God that the people of this Land are resilient. Every day, through the virtuous acts of others, I find signs that peace can be achieved in the Holy Land, despite the political upheaval. I continue to have hope in my heart even though at times it can feel more elusive than I would wish.


In fact, I almost cancelled this month’s newsletter because of the tone this letter might take. Then, I recalled an email I received a few days ago. It gave me the inspiration that I needed. I hope you find an excerpt from the note as encouraging as I did.


“This correspondence is long overdue. I am not completely sure how I got on this mailing list, but I am so glad I am. 
Since a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2016, we have come each year as volunteers in the Garden Tomb. Our experiences have been varied, from serving at the arrival of the Covid and our repatriation in autumn 2023 with the arrival of the rockets from Gaza. On each occasion we have made numerous visits to Notre Dame and the reception we have received has been physically, emotionally and of course spiritually enriching. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a favoured site of ours, where quiet contemplation has had a renewing impact on our faith. 
Although we do not come from the same religious tradition, it has never hindered us from being spiritually enriched through your correspondence and rich insights they have provided…. 
My sincere thanks to you and your colleagues for your faithful emails over the past few years.”


This note inspired me to reach out to all of you and to acknowledge the beauty and significance of the Holy Land as a place of communion and peace that transcends time.  I am grateful for the couple who took a few minutes of their time to affirm me and open my heart a little wider. I pray that it does the same for you as we all share a love for the Holy Land.


I join with you in prayer for an end to the war in Gaza, a return of the hostages ,and a peaceful resolution of all hostilities both in this region and throughout the world.


Thank you again for all of your prayers and the support.


Sincerely in the Risen Lord,

Father David Steffy, L.C.

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