In 2003, through the Children’s Peace Project, five children from Palestine came to St. Andrew Parish and stayed with parish families for a few weeks. When I first learned about them coming, my first thought was, “Palestinians? Aren’t they terrorists?” Sadly, that is not an uncommon view of Palestinians in the US. For me, it was the first time that I saw the children, before any of them even uttered a single word that I knew that view was false.
Thirteen years later, I am preparing for my fourth pilgrimage and mission trip to the Holy Land with a group called HOPE: Holy Land Outreach Promoting Education. HOPE evolved from the Children’s Peace Project, when it was realized that there was a need for a twinning partnership between teachers in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Latin Patriarchate Schools in the Holy Land.
Over the past six years many educators have traveled to the Holy Land from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, as well as educators from the Holy Land to the Cincinnati. HOPE has provided the teachers of the Latin Patriarchate Schools with tools to enhance their educational programs, the major one being Talents Unlimited, a professional development model to improve critical and creative thinking, that stretches students’ thinking beyond traditional strategies.
The Latin Patriarchate staff, teachers, parents and children have given those of us from the Archdiocese much more than we have given to them. They live under Occupation; they are the only people in the world today that live in this unfair circumstance. But they are people of great faith and by their faith they have given us much hope!
You answer us with awesome deeds of justice, O God our savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of those far off across the sea. Ps. 65:6
If you’d like to learn more about HOPE check out our blog HOPE Voices: https://hopevoices.wordpress.com/
JoAnne Lacey has been a parishioner at St. Andrew for almost 20 years. She is married to Ken Lacey and they have three children, Lauren, Mark and Sean. JoAnne serves as the secretary on Parish Council at St. Andrew and coordinates the parish prayer chain. She is on the HOPE Board of Directors and also writes and manages the HOPE Voices blog.