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Jerusalem at Peace
While the world sees a Holy Land erupting in violence, Fr. Eamon Kelly LC talks about his peaceful walk through the ancient city

Fr. Eamon at sundown in Jerusalem
Fr. Eamon at sundown in Jerusalem

The following is the experience of Fr. Eamon Kelly LC, Vice Chargé of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, during his September 21, 2012, walk through the streets of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Israel -- Prompted by the many questions about safety and security here, I am experiencing zero difference from when I left six weeks ago, despite all the chat and concerned emails I got in the US!  There is an amazing tone difference here on the ground from the “lobby and cocktail chat” in the States.

The Armenian people in Jerusalem celebrated their national day yesterday (Sept. 20, 2012) evening in Notre Dame Center. The Armenian Consul in Jerusalem hosted the reception at which the Israeli ambassador to Armenia also delivered greetings.  Great concern was expressed over the circumstances of the significant Armenian population in Syria.  In Jerusalem the Armenian Catholics run the Third and Fourth Stations of the Way of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. (The Armenian Apostolic Church has its Patriarchate in the Armenian Quarter at St James’ Church where relics of both St James Apostles are venerated, and there is a very good relationship with the Catholic Church.)

I notice there are thousands of visitors in Jerusalem today, who are on a cruise in the Mediterranean. Scores of busses bring them from the cruise ship in Asdod or Askelon to Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  Since they only have one short day, they usually visit Gethsemane and the Holy Sepulcher. Then on the second morning they wake up in the port of Haifa and visit a couple of the sites
Mix of Faiths
Fr. Eamon notices the diversity of locals and pilgrims during his walk
in Galilee.

At Notre Dame, we hosted a similar group last night. They chose to stay with us overnight so they could visit more holy places and have some more time to pray in Jerusalem. They happened to be Iranians living in the USA and were most heartly and passionately interested to see the Holy Land and meet the people.

I talked with Oklahoma pilgrims just finishing up a week here, Germans who were here for two weeks, local Palestinians in East Jerusalem, a Greek Orthodox priest, Tel Aviv Jewish families on holiday here for New Year’s,  Russians -- 5000 Ukrainians are here on pilgrimage -- Polish, Swedes, and many others, and everyone says it is so peaceful here!

The sun is going down.  I enter the Damascus Gate and Jewish people are returning through the Arab quarter as usual from the Western Wall prayer.  Many are dressed in white to emphasize the festive celebration of the Jewish New Year.

I notice children playing near the Menorah, with the Western Wall in background.  I missed taking a glorious picture of a group of Palestinian children as I climbed up the Mount of Olives – their eyes and faces were so happy.

For better understanding of what is going on here in the Middle East, I highly recommend you read the Holy Father’s words from his visit to Lebanon this past weekend. (See links below.) He gave some marvelous inspiration in Beirut and was enthusiastically received.  Plus I include a summary of his words to
Children Playing
Fr. Eamon notices children playing
Christian and Muslim young people who gathered to hear him.

I am praying for you all, and looking forward to greeting you soon here in Jerusalem!  Blessings for you, your families and all the good you do. Thank you again for all you have done for us here!



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