Giving the youth the best education possible, giving them a future: this is the purpose of daily work carried out by the principals of the schools of the Custody of the Holy Land. Part of their commitment is also coordinating and coming together, in the course of periodic meetings. That is why on Wednesday, October 25, the principals of the Terra Santa Schools met with the Father Custos, Fr. Francesco Patton, in Nazareth. On the agenda for the first meeting of the 2017-18 school year, was the organization of initiatives to celebrate with the 800-year anniversary of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land with the students.
Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, director of the central school office, welcomed the principals present, who came from Jerusalem, Ramleh, Haifa, Jaffa, Bethlehem, Jericho and Acre. Hosting the event was Fr. Amjad, principal of the schools in Nazareth, where the meeting was held.
“There is a whole chapter in the Statues of the Custody of the Holy Land for the Terra Santa Schools,” said the Custos of the Holy Land, recalling the importance of educational activities for the Franciscans. The Terra Santa Schools are among the best in the Holy Land, even though their cost is lower [than other private schools], so as to be accessible to all families. This is due to the passion and dedication that sets apart the Franciscans, who are motivated by the constant search for improvement. The Father Custos said that it is important not to forget to invest in the teachers, giving them all they can to make them feel proud to be part of a large family. Then, the Custos invited the schools to set an annual date that will be Terra Santa Schools Day, where students, teachers and parents can celebrate in the schools.
Despite the challenges faced each day, the commitment to maintain one’s identity must be carried on. Even though most pupils are of other religions (such as in Jericho, for example, where Muslims make up 80 percent of the student body), the schools of the Custody of the Holy Land are called to preserve their Christian and Franciscan identity. That is why Fr. Patton announced that the pupils will be involved in the celebrations for the 800-year anniversary of Custody’s presence: the history of the Franciscans is part of their history. The central school office will then have to prepare a plan for the next two years to organize the celebrations that will continue until 2019, the year of the 800-year commemoration of St. Francis’ arrival in the Holy Land in 1219. A committee consisting of five members from each school, whose first meeting is expected to take place in the coming weeks, will be in charge of this.
Fr. Ibrahim Faltas enthusiastically welcomed all of the Custos’ suggestions, and all who were present were also satisfied wit this productive meeting.
The principals of the Terra Santa Schools then discussed critical issues and solutions to organizational, legal, and economic problems that they encounter on a daily basis. Everything has a single goal: offering the best to the young students of Franciscan schools.