For Christians in the Gaza strip, sacramental life continues even in the face of war. A group of eight children at Holy Family Church, the only Catholic church in Gaza, recently reached a major milestone in their faith journey: First Holy Communion. Photographs of the ceremony, held on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord celebrated Sunday, were shared by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem:
The announcement, from the website of the Latin Patriarchate, noted that the children who received their First Communion completed the educational preparation program during the war. Holy Family Church has not closed its doors since the conflict began October 7, 2023, and continues to provide shelter for civilians caught in the crossfire. Aside from the First Communion ceremony, the church has held baptisms and Masses for the last three months.
Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, complemented the parish’s resourcefulness, which has allowed it to continue its vital work for the community in the time of war. For example, when they could no longer procure Communion hosts, parishioners set up a production room where they could bake the bread themselves. In check-ups with the monastery over the last three months, Cardinal Pizzaballa has praised the “strength and steadfast faith demonstrated by the parishioners of Gaza.”
Holy Family Church has been a place of refuge for many since October, and those who are sick remain in the church for safety and so their conditions can be monitored.
The heartwarming message ended with a slideshow of pictures and a prayer for peace and the continued prosperity of these young Catholics as they embark on the next step of their faith journey: Confirmation:
“We continue to pray for our people in Gaza so that God would give them strength and patience during these tough times. And we continue to plead for a cease-fire and hope for a comprehensive plan of peace and justice to take place.”