Source: Fides, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has announced the suspension of courses and training activities for the next academic year at their minor seminary in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, because of the Covid-19 crisis.
Seminary Rector, Father Jacob Rafidi, has written a letter officially confirming the suspension for the 2020-2021 academic year. Most students who attend the seminary come from Jordan, and take the secondary school courses offered there. The also take part in courses and activities supporting their spiritual development.
Fr Jacob said it was impossible for seminary students residing in Jordan to obtain the visas needed to return to the institute, given the ongoing closure of the borders between Jordan and Palestine due to the pandemic. He said that the health and epidemiological conditions of the region, determined by the pandemic emergency, "do not allow us to predict even if it will be possible to ensure the normal opening of the school year 2020-2021."
The Latin Patriarchal Seminary in Beit Jala has welcomed and formed candidates for the priesthood for the Latin diocese of the Holy City and for other dioceses of the Holy Land for more than a century and a half.
The Latin Patriarch Giuseppe Valerga founded it in December 1852, to form local Arab Christians and young people from abroad so that they could become priests of the Latin Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
Several women's religious congregations, including the Sisters of Mercede and - at the present time - the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà have also worked at the Seminary.
The minor Seminary has always gathered young boys from all regions of the diocese, interested in deepening their vocation to the priesthood, and gradually introduced to a life focused on prayer, community sharing and spiritual discernment.
The minor Seminary has so far formed about 290 priests, including 15 bishops and three patriarchs: Giacomo Giuseppe Beltritti, Michel Sabbah and Fouad Twal. Until the 2019-2020 academic year, the seminary hosted 30 minor seminarians and 20 major seminarians, both Palestinian and Jordanian.
Read more about Beit Jala Seminary here: www.santosepulcro.va/content/ordineequestresantosepolcro/en/dalla-terra-santa/aggiornamenti-dalla-terra-santa/porte-aperte-al-seminario-di-beit-jala.html
See a short video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZs68msv9gY
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