A new theatre for the Terra Sancta School in Jerusalem

A new theatre for the Terra Sancta School in Jerusalem

In the afternoon of Wednesday 17 April, the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, fra Massimo Fusarelli, and the Vicar General, fra Ignacio Ceja Jiménez, took part in the inauguration of the theatre of the Terra Sancta School in Jerusalem.

A space for expression and culture

After the “Jerusalem capital of the Resurrection” Sports Centre inaugurated in July 2023, for the students and the Old City, in some way the theatre completes the offer of the school, giving the youngsters a space for expression and culture, where they can develop their talents and give a voice to their aspirations.

This was also the meaning of the performance on the day of the inauguration. After the opening of the doors, the guests took their seats in the audience, while on stage, the youngsters of the Terra Sancta schools in Jerusalem and Beit Hanina (the Arab quarter of Jerusalem) presented traditional dances, songs and a short performance on the topic of war: in theatrical form, the boys and girls expressed worries and fears, but also wishes and aspirations.

The theatre, don Giuseppe and the Risen One

The theatre has been named after the Italian don Giuseppe Bellia, who after a sudden conversion became a priest and greatly loved the Holy Land. One of his bequests was the opportunity to give the youngsters of the Terra Sancta School in Jerusalem this theatre. In his introductory greetings, fra Ibrahim Faltas, Custodial Vicar and Head of the Terra Sancta Schools, announced that “on 18 May, in Verona (Italy), Pope Francis will bless a statue that will be put on the school roof.” It is a portrait of Jesus Risen embracing the whole of Humanity.

Education, culture and peace

“In these dark days, this place can become a symbol of resurrection and life for the whole of our community,” the Custos of the Holy Land, fra Francesco Patton, said in his speech. “Educating through culture,” he insisted, “means offering young people the tools that let them develop their potential and help them cultivate an opening to the whole world. In the context of today, it also means helping young people to discover their own history and the cultural roots, to let them grow up in the culture of peace,”

These words were echoed by those of the Minister General, fra Massimo Fusarelli: “In it’s over 800 years of history, the Custody of the Holy Land has always held the education of the people who live in this land very dearly. This theatre fits perfectly into this tradition. Education produces culture, which is a fundamental element in the life of a people and the basis for peaceful development. Taking care of education means taking care of the future of a people.” Fra Massimo hoped that the theatre can be “a tool of growth, resurrection to a new life, cultural formation and encounter for many in this Holy City, especially at the present time.”

For total growth of the individual

The pontifical delegate for Jerusalem, Mons. Adolfo Tito Ilana, spoke of education as an instrument to help youngsters “reach their completeness as people. “This theatre represents precisely this:” he said, “a work in which the mind, the heart and the hands come together in a perfect symphony: the mind to think, the heart to feel and the hands to do.” Monsignor Yllana wanted not only to thank the Franciscans for their work in education, but also to recall “the sense of the Christian presence in Jerusalem: we are here to welcome everyone, we build to grow, we learn  to share and we act on behalf of others.” 

After the ceremony, the guests went to the Sports Centre for a short tour of the facilities.

Marinella Bandini