A book to support the children of the Boy’s Home in Bethlehem: this is an initiative of Edizioni Terra Santa, the Custody’s publishing. My Father’s Creche is a collection of Christmas stories, which ETS presented in Milan on November 16, in collaboration with Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the CEI (the Italian Bishops’ Conference) and the ATS Pro Terra Sancta Association. “By purchasing this book, you are supporting the project of the Boy’s Home in Bethlehem, where children experiencing hardships, orphans and families coming from difficult situations can find a safe and peaceful place [to go]”: this can be read in the last pages of the book. Managed by Marwan Di’des, the Boy’s Home recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. Currently, the home welcomes 27 children: 12 live in the home, and the others come in the afternoon activities for study, leisure and sports.
The idea for the initiative, named “Book for Bethlehem,” was to collect texts from 13 Italian authors, who write stories about their “creche.” Most of these works (except for two that are unpublished) have been published over the years by the Avvenire newspaper. Everyone tried to talk about Christmas, not by taking the story directly from the Gospel, but by writing original ones that could be read by both children and parents.
Fr. Antonio Mazzi, who has visited the Boy’s Home of Bethlehem several times, also wrote a story. The Italian priest is the soul of the Exodus Foundation, which since 1984 has worked against drug addiction and social exclusion. A very active columnist who is often on Italian radio and TV, he is the author of many books on educational issues. Fr. Mazzi said in regards to Bethlehem: “I wrote a story and in this passage I say that Jesus at 31, that is, on his birthday, wanted to go to dinner at his mother’s house. He took John and Judah with him and they went home.” With his wit and energy, the priest continued: “You have to read it all and you will be amused and also understand how Jesus celebrated his first birthday away from home.”
In the editor’s note at the opening of the book, we read: “We believe that there is no better way to experience Christmas than to remember the One who came to ‘dwell among us’ (John 1:14) making himself little and choosing to come to the world among the least of us.”
Along with the book, a postcard will also be given to children for them to write their own messages that will be sent directly to the Holy Land. “Dear Child Jesus, on this Christmas I ask you for a special gift for the world” can be read in the book. The youngest will have to continue by writing their own intentions that will reach the city where Jesus was born.
On November 16, My Father’s Creche was officially presented in a meeting in the Terra Santa Library on Via Gherardini in Milan. In addition to the being welcomed by the editor of Terrasanta Magazine, Giuseppe Caffulli, and after readings by Aglaia Zannetti, Fr. Marwan Di’des was also present in Milan to bring his witness of what life is like with the children in Bethlehem.