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Bio express

Age: 60 

Job: program coordinator at the Sabeel Center

City: Jérusalem

Denomination: Latin Catholic

Sawsan

“It is time for the Church to listen seriously to the need of the people”

Would you say you are involved with the church ?

All my life I have been serving the church. I served through the scouts, and then, with my husband, we tried to revive the Young Christians Association in Jerusalem. The idea was to help young people, especially the university students and workers, by getting them together and work on their spirituality. I am also involved in many committees and boards of church’s institutions. 

 

Why is it important for you to be involved? 

My faith means a lot to me, and I try to live my faith through action, as “faith without works is dead” that’s what Jesus taught us.  I cannot see people in need and do nothing.  As a family we all involved in one way or another in the ministry. Being involved in the ministry give me the chance to serve my community and be close to them. Though it is hard sometime to reach them specially the young people, because there is lack of trust that creates the gap between the people and the church. I hope and pray that through the synod journey will be able to restore the trust and reducing the gap.

 

 

Is the church giving you a place, as a woman and a lay person ?

Our religious leaders come and go. but we as people of faith stay. Some clergy would give you the space and other don’t, so it is all depend on the priest character. unfortunately, when the priest change everything goes with him, and the new one brings his ideas and his own people around him. I don’t think lay people are getting enough chances to serve the church. We know that we aren’t always heard and that our resources are not used. We have so many smart and dedicated people who are around and would like to be useful. But they need to know that they will be trusted, listened to, incorporated to decisions and plans. I am quoting some of the people responses regarding this issue, “why we need to be involved no one will lesson to us, no matter what we do, no matter what we say, at the end of the day, the priest will do whatever he wants”. That’s the general perspective of the people. 

 

What bothers you in the Church today?

I think that People needs somebody to listen to their concerns. And that is what the Synod is all about, sometimes people feel that they are on their own and the church is not putting much effort to reach those people who are in need, and no equal opportunity is given to people. The church think that the people need only the humanitarian support, but in fact they are thirst to spiritual directions. When you go to church on Sunday, homilies are not prepared, or not connected to our daily lives, it doesn’t speak to the people. It is unfortunate, because mass is the only way we can reach people. 

 

What leverages could the Church use to initiate a change ?

By listening seriously, getting what they hear transformed into actions. Because people know what their needs are. Priests cannot do everything by themselves. Some have good heart and intentions, but the wrong approach. Until now, I cannot see a clear plan on how to reach the marginalized, the poor, We need to have a mission. We need to go beyond people that are around us, beyond our comfort zone to reach them. But who is willing to do that ? This is a big question, I’ll leave it open. 

 

What is your dream for this Church ?

 

I would like the Church to be everybody’s church. That denomination doesn’t count anymore and that we think as people of faith in the holiest place on earth on how to support each other. I also hope that one day, the churches will consider the people’s wishes, by having some unity amongst themselves, at least during Christmas or Easter. It is so important for people here. I would also like that the Church thinks of a strategy on how to keep the living stones alive, to encourage young people not to take the easy way and leave. Nowadays, if the youth has an opportunity to leave, they take it. We need to connect them to this land. Our former patriarch, Michel Sabbah, always tells us that we are not a minority: we are the salt of Earth. And as long as we are here, we need to give, we need to serve.