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Bio express

Age: 66 years old

Profession: Social worker 

City: Bethlehem

Denomination: Roman Catholic

Gloria

"I try to be on the shore: neither too close from the Church, nor too far away from the margins"

How are you involved in the life of the Church?

For me, religion is my life. My life as a parishioner is intimately tied to my involvement with the youth because I worked for a long time as a teacher of catechism at the girls’ school that is run by the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Bethlehem. I stopped when teaching catechism became subject to having a university degree. It makes no sense really to equate teaching catechism with books and theories and grades. What is at stake is not only to speak about Jesus but to speak with Jesus. I work today, therefore, as a social worker in this same school. This requires a lot of discretion because one enters into the lives of others. Jesus is fully present in this process because in order to gain the hearts of the children, modern pedagogy is not enough. The love of the Lord is capable of everything and I try to speak to them in truth. I try to be on the shore, neither too close to the clerical institutions nor too far from those who are very much in the margins of the Church, in order to create bridges between the two.

 

What makes you dissatisfied in the Church today?

It was probably not intentional, but the Church has established a relationship of dependance on material things. This means that those who are close to the Church are often there because of a financial rather than a spiritual aim. Before the first Intifada, in 1987, no one went to the parish priest to ask for financial help. Since then, we have seen financial aid flow in from all over the world. The Church has become kind of a Ministry of Economic Affairs. This aid is necessary but it should be thought through intelligently, especially as today it is less consistent and people are always demanding more and more. I also see people who say that if they do not receive money, they will leave the country. This is a pity.

 

What do you expect from the Synod?

It is sad that the priests do not take enough time to listen to us. The Church today must speak to everybody: the youth, the elderly, the disabled… It is necessary to work within the families, the homes, cultivating a real connection. Small groups of priests and sisters paid home visits during the last Synod. But that stopped quite quickly. I hope this Synod succeeds in putting into place things that will last.

 

Do you have a dream for the Church?

I would like the Church to be more alive. That people would come to Church for Jesus and not only for the aid the Church might be giving them. I hope the Church will find ways to get out of the old ways of doing things in order to become simpler, more hospitable, putting faith back at the heart.

Interview by Cécile Lemoine