10/19/2021, 10.48
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A vocation from Gaza after decades: from the Strip to the world, witnessing to Christ

by Dario Salvi

Twenty-three year old Abdallah Jeldah has made his vows of religious profession. After the novitiate he will enter the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) and continue his studies in Italy, visa permitting. The vocation was born while attending the parish of the Holy Family. The ideal of peace in justice. 




Gaza (AsiaNews) - From Gaza, an open-air prison, to the world to bring the Gospel, the witness and message of Christ "wherever it is needed" in a spirit of "obedience". This because being Christians in the Strip is "a mission, a grace and, at the same time, a responsibility".

These simple but direct words have been entrusted to AsiaNews by the 23-year-old Abdallah Jeldah, and they tell of a strong faith, formed in a strip of land where four wars have taken place in less than 15 years.

This path, which led him to embrace Catholicism in 2019 from the Greek Orthodox faith of his family, matured over time. On October 10, he made his initial vows of religious profession, become the first local person to take up religious vestmente after decades without native priests or religious. 

After completing his novitiate, he will join the Institute of the Incarnate Word (Ive), the same order of which Gaza's pastor Fr. Gabriel Romanelli is a member, an Argentine priest who celebrated the service in a festive atmosphere for the entire community.

"My vocation - he recounts - was born by attending the Holy Family parish and the then through parish priest Fr. Mario da Silva, observing the pastoral activities and the experience with young people." The discovery of wanting to become a priest and missionary "gave me a great inner peace". 

He recently professed four vows: charity, chastity, obedience and consecration to Jesus through Our Lady.

From Gaza to Bethlehem, from Nazareth to Jerusalem "we are the descendants of the first Christians and we want to live and bear witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel everywhere in the world, through works and prayer".

This witness iis greatly needed in the Strip, where for years there has been a harsh economic blockade imposed by Israel against Hamas, which governs a territory where two million people live with very heavy restrictions on movement.

Last May, a devastating blitzkrieg was fought that caused hundreds of victims. In the following weeks there have been other moments of tension, with the launch of incendiary balloons from a front and targeted air raids of the air force in response, but the skirmishes have not degenerated into open conflict. 

According to Israel, the blockade is necessary to prevent the rearmament of Hamas, an Islamic extremist movement that has repeatedly threatened the destruction of the Jewish State. Activists and critical voices object that the closure amounts to collective punishment.

"I have lived through four wars, even I have almost a doctorate in conflict - he adds - but I have always left room for hope, without forgetting the evil. For peace we need a firm, constant and permanent justice, and for this I want to spend my mission."

Now Abdallah Jeldah is waiting for his visa to enter the seminary of the congregation (founded in Argentina in 1984 and present in 26 countries on five continents) in Montefiascone, in the province of Viterbo. From an open-air prison to the four corners of the world, to bring a light that shines in those who are minorities in their own land and witness the faith to Muslims with their lives.

"His vocation," stressed Fr. Romanelli, "is a grace and a joy for everyone, from the parish of Gaza to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and other congregations, because it is a sign of hope. He, born and living among wars, is not afraid to go where the Church will send him."

"A Christian from the Strip - concludes the parish priest - knows how to be light and hope, sharing daily life with those who do not believe in Jesus, but pointing out to them that the Lord has come for everyone." 

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