An Israeli Catholic priest who is one of the Middle East's great prophets of peace will be speaking on 7 July at Vaughan House, behind Westminster Cathedral. Fr Abuna Elias Chacour, a Melkite Catholic priest, is a world-famous ambassador of non-violence in his troubled land. At the age of eight, he was evicted, along with the rest of his village, by the Israeli authorities from his village in Galilee. But rather than turn to violence, he became a priest with a mission to reconcile Jews, Christians and Muslims in Israel. In 1982, he began the project for which he is famous - a high school in Ibillin, where he has been parish priest since 1965. Uniquely in Israel, the 4,000 pupils at the school of Mar Elias are drawn from all three communities - Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Across the world the school is studied as an example of the possibilities of future peaceful coexistence. Fr Chacour is now building what he calls "the first Arab Christian Israeli University". "Either we stop claiming to be children of Abraham or we act as brothers and try to reconcile," he once said. "And reconciliation cannot be in the form of slave and lord, powerful and powerless." Fr Chacour is an inspiring figure and compelling speaker, who has authored two acclaimed books: Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land. The talk will be held on July 7th, 5.30pm, at Vaughan House, 46 Francis Street SW1P 1QN. Everyone is welcome and admission is free but pre booking is advised for seating purposes. Fr Chacour is also a main speaker at the Diocese of Westminster's Young Adult Festival, Bright Lights (8th-11th July). This event is for 16-30 year olds and details are available from: http://www.brightlightsfestival.co.uk
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