From March 7-11, 2013, the Holy Land Commission of the Grand Magisterium of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre visited several projects of the Latin Patriarchate supported in the Holy Land by the Grand Magisterium. Father Humam Khzouz, General Administrator of the Patriarchate accompanied them to the sites.
They visited the new Church in Aqaba, the Convent of the Rosary Sisters in Sweifieh, the American University of Madaba. The three members of the Holy Land Commission were: Dr. Christa von Siemens, Professor Thomas McKiernan and Dr. Michael Whelan, who through four days visited ten projects supported by the Grand Magisterium of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Dr. von Siemens, President of the Commission, said she was “very impressed with the level of work and finishing.”
The choice of a project to be completed
“Regularly,” Dr. von Siemens explains, “we come to the Holy Land to evaluate the needs of the projects proposed by the Latin Patriarchate.” Once the studied projects with their relevant dossiers have been presented to the Grand Magisterium, they are analyzed, and decision is taken to support a particular project, according to the priorities of the Patriarchate. Precise reports and regular visits follow to monitor the work progress, led by Father Humam Khzouz, General Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate. Twice a year, members of the Grand Magisterium to visit the projects in the Holy Land that are funded by the Order: projects just initiated, in progress or completed.
This visit focused on Jordan. Of the recently completed projects, the Commission is amazed “by the pure beauty” of the new Church of Stella Maris in Aqaba, which was inaugurated on December 14. Emotions were high at the parish Mass on Sunday, March10, where families, young couples and children in Church came together. Dr. von Siemens said she was impressed by this visit which was an opportunity to perceive “Christianity lived in these places.” The group also visited Bishop Laham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan, where another project, the new Vicariate in Amman, was completed a few months ago. The Commission also visited several convents and rectories recently restored, thanks to the support of Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, places such as those of Ruseifeh, Misdar, Hashimi, and the convent of the Rosary Sisters in Sweifieh.
One of the most important projects is the American University of Madaba. It is an undertaking that the committee has known for several years. On Monday, March 11, the committee was visited the University in operation with its students for the first time,. The President of the Commission made no secret of being struck by the good relations that exist among the more than 850 students of different nationalities and religions. Further north, the group also visited the Wahadreh site (the construction of a new parish house) just started and is expected to be finished by the end of this summer.
The Commission then visited Fuheis, a site that in 2013 will be a new project. Within a few months, work will begin on the complete renovation of the parish house.
In the course of a few days, in the ten sites visited: an image of a Church of the Holy Land whose stones survive and are beautified, thanks to the continued support of the Grand Magisterium. Dr. von Siemens, once again struck by her encounters with the Christians of the Holy Land, concluded her trip with the words “we, not the East, we must be very grateful to the local Christians for their presence in this land.” Father Humam Khzouz, who led the members of the Commission through the different sites, has expressed gratitude to the Grand Magisterium on behalf of the Patriarchate,: “Without the Grand Magisterium these restorations would not be possible.” He also wished a speedy recovery to Dr. Michael Whelan who was absent for health reasons.