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Missionary Nun talks about Christians who flee from the Holy Land ...and those who migrate there

2013-05-02

SR. ALICIA VACAS
Comboni Missionaries (Holy Land) 
"We live in an apartment building with other Christians. The building has 20 units, but only seven are occupied. The rest, are empty.”

Over the years, she says,  Christians have fled the Holy Land, hoping to find a better future for their family elsewhere. The town of Betania,  where she lives, is right next to Jerusalem, but if you're not an Israeli citizen, life can be challenging.  

SR. ALICIA VACAS
Comboni Missionaries (Holy Land) 
"You loose access to Jerusalem, you loose access to health care, to a college education, to the airport. Christians don't want to loose this, so they leave.”

And while it's true that Christians are leaving the Holy Land, other Christians are actually  migrating into this very region. The main reason is to find work. 

SR. ALICIA VACAS
Comboni Missionaries (Holy Land) 
"There's a flux of Christians who are leaving the Holy Land, but there also good number of Christians who are migrating there, especially people from the Philippines, Latin America and different African countries who are looking for jobs.”

The Church in Jerusalem now faces the challenge of welcoming this new generation of immigrants and helping them assimilate to a different culture and language while staying true to their Christian roots, despite being a minority. 

SR. ALICIA VACAS
Comboni Missionaries (Holy Land) 
"Most of the Christians who move to Israel will work in the homes of Israelis, so Jews. Their children will attend Jewish schools so they have to learn Hebrew and learn about the Bible in this language. So for the Church in Jerusalem, it's a challenge to have a young generation of Christians that have to be taught catechesis in Hebrew.”

She says religious persecution can be disgusted in bureaucracy, discrimination, or in extreme cases direct attacks. Despite the fact that many Christians see religious persecution as something of the past, she says unfortunately it's still a current problem. 


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