Sabeel Community Building Program
Lenten Reflections & Women’s Day Educational Afternoon
March 12, 2013
Every year, Sabeel organizes a Lenten program providing an opportunity for the community to reflect on this holy season – how it challenges us and prepares us for Easter. This year, the Lenten program was held in conjunction with Sabeel’s celebration of Women’s Day (March 8). The full-day program involved a morning of spiritual and theological reflection, while the afternoon incorporated an educational program about socio-political challenges and health issues affecting women. The event was co-hosted by the Jerusalem and Nazareth offices, with a total of 103 participants in attendance.
After congregating at the Sabeel offices in the morning, the participants traveled over to the West Bank city of Jericho. The first stop of the day was the Good Shepherd Latin Church where the participants met Fr. Mario Hadchity, the Latin Parish Priest in Jericho. He led the group in reflecting on the city of Jericho in its Biblical context and especially on the story of Zaccheus. Using humor and his deep knowledge of the Bible, Fr. Hadchity drew important connections for the listeners between Zaccheus’s effort to glimpse Jesus, the life of faith, and the journey through Lent. He emphasized that the significance of Lent is not merely found in religious practices of fasting. It is not just what enters the body that is important, but also what proceeds from it in the form of service to others and love of neighbor. After the talk, the participants spread out on the spring grass of the convent yard to discuss personal thoughts and comments in small groups.
After a midday lunch at a local restaurant, the group transitioned to a time of learning about contributions and challenges of women, in honor of Women’s Day. Vera Pano (Masters of Public Health and Health Education Supervisor of UNRWA) spoke with the participants about the challenges that the women face in Jericho, highlighting the effects of the occupation on the economic situation. Ms. Pano also spoke of the difficult situation for families during the Second Intifada. During that time, many men were refused permits to work outside of Jericho, so the women became the main providers for their families through selling things they could make from home such as food items or artisan projects. Ms. Pano also addressed women’s health issues, explaining how local organizations like the YWCA are working hard to educate women on local health issues through a variety of programs and workshops. The women from Jerusalem and Nazareth showed great interest, and the whole group was later able to support the local economy by purchasing some of the women’s products from the YWCA.