It’s Christmas at the Boys’ Home!

It’s Christmas at the Boys’ Home!

The day is cold but the sky is clear. The white vestments are those of a feast day. It is Christmas at the “Boys’ Home” in Bethlehem, the home of the Custody of the Holy Land which for 16 years has taken in Christian youngsters from families in difficulty. On Friday 22 December, fra Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, celebrated Christmas Mass with them. From 23 December until 10 January, the youngsters will return home to their families to spend the Christmas period with their parents, relatives and friends.

The gifts of God

“At Christmas we remember the birth of Jesus, who gives himself to us and who continues to do so with the Eucharist,” said the Custos. In a dialogue with the boys, during the homily, he then emphasized two gifts that Jesus gave to me by being born: “He made us become sons of God and therefore brothers to one another and he gave us the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation. So our heart is in peace and we are also in peace among ourselves, and with all people.

Fra Sandro Tomašević, director of the Home, fra George Haddad, director of the Terra Sancta School of Bethlehem, attended by the youngsters, and fra Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), one of the organizations that most supports this charity of the Custody of the Holy Land, concelebrated the Mass with fra Patton.

The gifts of Christmas

After Mass, close to the Christmas tree in the Home, the youngsters offered a brief reflection on the meaning of Christmas in a play, which culminated in the Hymn of Peace by St Francis of Assisi.

After lunch,  fra Patton and fra Peter, together with Father Christmas, distributed the presents to the children. The gifts were offered by the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land. There were also gifts for the Custos of the Holy Land, who is 60 years old on 23 December and who blew out the candles with the boy of the Home.

Life in the Boys’ Home

At present, there are 26  youngsters in the Boys’ Home. The facility is a few dozen yards as the crow flies from the majestic Basilica of the Nativity, which can be seen from the garden where the boys play. They live here from Monday to Friday, under the supervision of fra Sandro and in the care of other adults – social workers, teachers and service personnel -  who every day accompany them on their path to becoming men. On Saturdays, after school, they go home, to their families, until the Monday. “We also put ‘care’ in prime position,” says fra Sandro, “we try to make them feel at home, like a large family.” 

Marinella Bandini