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In Jerusalem, Spiritual Renewal and a Refuge from the Hostilities
"Whatever people can do to help will be greatly appreciated," Fr. Solana explained.

Instituto Pontificio Notre Dame de Jerusalén
Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.

By Jay Dunlap

Jerusalem, July 31, 2006 – In a holy city described as tense yet serene, the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem hosts 55 priests from around the world for a three week-long spiritual renewal program even as dozens of families from the strife-torn north of Israel come to the center seeking refuge.

The Center is hosting its third biannual spiritual renewal course with priests from countries such as the Phillipines, Vietnam, India, Poland, Italy, Venezuela, Mexico and the United States, to name a few. Fr. Juan Solana, LC, Director of the Notre Dame Center, said Jerusalem is peaceful and secure, allowing the priests to engage in the full program of spiritual renewal, though they did have to cancel a planned trip to Galilee because of the present hostilities.

At the same time, the 150-room Center is also hosting as many as eighty Israeli families who have escaped Haifa and other
Actividades del pimer curso de renovación espiritual en Notre Dame.
Spiritual renewal course with priests.
parts of northern Israel, where the conflict between Israel and Lebanon-based Hezbollah has shut down all commercial operations and sent families in search of safety.

“They left their homes as soon as they got the alarm,” Fr. Solana explained, meaning they were able to bring little or nothing with them. “A third of Israel is totally stopped.”

“A couple of days ago I realized a young couple was staying with their baby, less than a month old, in their car,” Fr. Solana added. “We welcomed them into the Notre Dame Center. They had nothing. I don’t know how many days they had stayed in their car,” he added.

While the priests and the Israeli families are living side by side, interaction is limited because of the language barrier. “Most of the families speak only Hebrew or Arabic, not English,” Fr. Solana observed. “Still, some of the priests have offered the families financial support:
P. Juan Solana, LC
Fr. John Solana, LC.
$100 or $200, whatever they can.”

Fr. Solana noted that everyone in the Holy Land is suffering from the hostilities. Understandably, he said, pilgrims who had planned to come to Jerusalem in July and August have cancelled their plans, though demand for rooms for the fall season remains good “assuming the situation improves, of course.” Space is available right now for the families fleeing the conflict, but they have little or no money. Employees at hospitality establishments like the Notre Dame Center are happy to help the displaced families, but the refugees’ poverty would mean there’s no money to pay the employees.

That’s where people from other countries can help, Fr. Solana said. They can donate online at and specify that they’d like to help the families seeking refuge from the war.

“Whatever people can do to help will be greatly appreciated,“ Fr. Solana explained.

Pope John Paul II
Guerra en Israel
Everyone in the Holy Land is suffering from the hostilities.
entrusted the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem to the care of the Legionaries of Christ in November, 2004. The Legionary team in Jerusalem is also overseeing the development of Notre Dame of Galilee, a planned center for pilgrims interested in visiting the land where Christ started his ministry.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, “We have purchased the land,“ Fr. Solana said, “but the project is ‘in between brackets’ at this point, so to speak. It’s prudent to wait until after the conflict to continue our project.”

“I don’t want to be alarmist, and we hope that the violent hostilities will be over in a week or so,” he added, “so that people can feel safe coming back to the Holy Land.”



Related links

Altius Foundation
Catholic World Mission
Helping Hands Medical Missions
St Rafael Guizar y Valencia Missionary Center

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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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