Fr. George Haddad: our school in Bethlehem, a resource for the whole area

Fr. George Haddad: our school in Bethlehem, a resource for the whole area

Let’s continue to discover the schools and educational work of the Custody of the Holy Land, where their presence is an essential point of reference for bringing up and teaching the new generations respect and peace.

Learning more about their story also means getting to know the main destination of the economic resources of the Custody of the Holy Land and where the donations and sums offered to the Custody end up.

“Supporting the Terra Sancta schools means supporting a greater mission than simple material support" - says fr. George Haddad, head of the Terra Sancta College of Bethlehem, with force and conviction. Today he  talks about the most important school in the West Bank.

The oldest school in the whole of the Middle East

“Our school,” says Fr. George, “can boast of being the oldest school in the whole of the Middle East  and was founded in 1598. Since then, generations and generations of Palestinians have had access to education thanks to our work and mission and still today,  ministers and figures occupying the most important positions in civil and political society have attended this school.”

“The Bethlehem school has more than 1200 pupils,” Fr. George continues, “from nursery school to high school. Just over half of them are Christians, of various confessions, and the others are Muslims. There are about 100 people who work in the school. You can only imagine the huge amount of work and dedication that are required to run a school like this.”

The great educational offer

“The particularity of our school is that there is no other school in Palestine that can offer such a diversified educational offer: there are scientific, classical, hotel and catering and beauty syllabuses. Only a few days ago we also signed an agreement of cooperation (read HERE about the news of the agreement) to inaugurate from next year a new industrial-electronic syllabus in collaboration with the Salesians’ school in Bethlehem, fostering vocational training. This is why the catchment area of the school is very large and pupils come not only from Bethlehem but also from the neighbouring villages and even from Hebron.”

Educating for peace

“At the basis of our mission there is the awareness of educating through those human values that the world, especially today, desperately needs.  Above all in a society of profound diversity,  we sow peace, listening and respect. The youngsters in these territories also have to be educated on the peculiarities of being youngsters “from Bethlehem,” to rediscover their roots and their history. “Being from Bethlehem” is something very particular; everybody looks at Bethlehem because it is here that salvation was born for us Christians, with the birth of Jesus.  But for Muslims as well, this is a land blessed  by the prophets and profoundly linked to the holy city of Jerusalem.”

The situation today

“The war arrived here is a more silent way, however no less tragically: without any pilgrims in this city, which is massively dependent on tourism, all the hotels and accommodation are closed, and families no longer have the money to pay the children’s school fees. Helping the Custody means first of all supporting the families. It is not only important to pay the salaries of the teachers and other personnel, but also to allow keeping up these large school premises.”

*** Silvia Giuliano

You can support the Terra Sancta Schools through the Donate Now page on the website of the Custody of the Holy Land and the next "Pro Terra Santa Collection", which will be on Good Friday, 29 March,  all over the world. This is the main source for supporting life around the Holy Places.