The community of St James organises a camp to teach children about Easter 'in joy and through play'

The "small Vicariate" of Hebrew-speaking Catholics meets for shared celebrations, which are also attended by migrant families with children born in Israel who speak and study in Hebrew. Easter provides an opportunity to give the children an experience of community, strengthening their Christian identity. Teenagers are involved in caring for the children. It is important not to lose the children when they get older.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The "small Vicariate" of St James will meet on Easter Sunday to observe and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, said Fr Rafic Nahra, speaking to AsiaNews.

After the service, scores of children will stay for three days to learn the meaning of Easter "in joy and through play,” said the clergyman who heads the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel and acts as coordinator for the pastoral care of migrants.

The Vicariate was set up in the 1950s by mixed Jewish-Catholic couples who came to the country. It now has about a thousand members divided among the parishes of Jerusalem, Beersheba, Jaffa, Haifa and Tiberias.

They will be joined by the families of Catholic migrants to Israel. Their children, who ere born in the country study and speak Hebrew, and attend pastoral outreach centres.

According to Fr Nahra, the two groups come together on two occasions. "One is Easter Sunday, the other is a day in autumn. On Easter Sunday we are all together, observing and celebrating. This year we will be in Beit Jimal, where there is a Salesian house.  There are also the nuns of Bethlehem, who have a large piece of land."

"At Easter the children got a school break between Passover and Easter. After the group get-together, many of the parents will go home but many children - aged 6 to 14 years - will stay for a three-day camp, to experience life together, in a Christian setting, which they do not experience in daily life.

"These camps are very important to us because our children are a Christian minority living in a Jewish and secular world. We try to help them to strengthen their Christian identity by being together – with their friends and educators. This gives them security, and gives them a sense of community," Fr Nahra noted.

The initiative provides "an opportunity to talk about this very central festivity, so that it may not just be a Sunday break, of going to Mass and that’s it. We have three days to talk about the Resurrection of Jesus, what it means to our life, and do so in an environment of joy and play."

Some migrant children born in Israel, who attend Israeli schools and are Hebrew-speaking, will attend the camp.

“Everyone will all be together; we make no difference. We are limited in terms of numbers because the place cannot accommodate more than a dozen children, but it is open to everyone."

Some teenagers will help the adults to take care of the children. "For us it is important and not easy - like everywhere else - not to lose the children once they become teenagers."