HOPE Gives and Receives Hope

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. JoAnne Lacey

I Give You a New Commandment: Love One Another. Jn. 13-34

HOPE (Holy Land Outreach Promoting Education) is a twinning relationship between the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Latin Patriarchate Schools (Roman Catholic schools in the Holy Land).  The roots of HOPE run deep within the St. Andrew community. For the past 14 years, so many St. Andrew parishioners have supported HOPE by generously hosting twinning partners, extending hospitality through preparing meals, driving guests, etc. Financial support from others keeps HOPE alive.

 On my pilgrimage I saw so much evidence that Jesus began His Church in the Holy Land. The holy sites give archeological evidence of that. But, more importantly, the Christian people of the Holy Land give testimony that they have walked with Jesus from the very beginning of his ministry 2,000 years ago. They embrace their heritage, understand their history, and live the Gospel message.

I received generous hospitality from host teacher Nivine, her husband, and family! I journeyed there with teaching techniques and a desire to make a new friend. What Nivine and I shared was not pedagogy but Christ; we shared in the ministry of teaching. The Spirit’s gifts went beyond my expectations. The Bible came to life through the landscape and the holy sites, and I have a deeper understanding of the scriptures. I learned about peace, which is not realized through politics but person to person, heart to heart, neighbor to neighbor. I witnessed What Would Jesus Do? firsthand. Most importantly, I gained more than a friend; I gained a sister.

I invite you to get involved with HOPE. Pray for HOPE. Share your talents or time. Make a donation; even sponsor a teacher’s trip!

Dear Lord, help us to live out your command to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

Sharon Bohlen has taught at the St. Andrew St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School System for 12 years.  She and her husband Dan have been married for 27 years and have 3 children; Sarah, Katie and Peter.  Peter is a student at Archbishop Moeller High School and Katie and Sara are college students.  Her family are parishioners at Good Shepherd Church in Montgomery.  Sharon’s first HOPE Pilgrimage was in 2014 and she is looking forward to going again in November.

Sharon Bohlen and Naveen

Sharon Bohlen  and her partner teacher in the Holy Land, Nivine