Bethlehem, Palestine – On Tuesday, 31 January, Bethlehem University was honored to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, as part of a personal pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Accompanied by several prominent members of the Anglican community, the visit was a first hand opportunity for the Archbishop and his guests to renew friendships with some students, staff and the Brothers, who recently enjoyed fellowship together during the conference on the Holy Land’s Christians, held at Lambeth Palace in July of 2011.
Fr. Jonathan Goodall, Reverend Dr. Toby Howarth, Reverend Rachel Carnedie, Very Reverend Canon David Richardson and Ms. Maeve Sherlock OBE toured the campus, hosted by Br. Peter Iorlano, who led a discussion with students, in order to share their stories, as they struggle to educate themselves, while living a land of conflict, under military occupation.
Archbishop of CanterburyAfter being one of the first special guests to tour the campus new Education building, the group enjoyed a specially prepared lunch, served by students in the Hotel Management training restaurant. After the interfaith lunch, during which the Archbishop dined with the visiting Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan. His Excellency was delighted to host first time visitors to the University, as it is a place quite familiar to him and close to his heart and mission to promote peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. “The miracle is that they believe there is a future worth working for. Not a future of division or exclusion; not a future of violence and rivalry but a future of sharing, understanding in justice. That is at the very heart of what this institution stands for. When we are told that they are blessed, who hunger and thirst for justice, by our Lord in the Beatitudes, there can be no doubt that Bethlehem University takes its stance among the blessed.”
Archbishop of CanterburyHis Excellency Williams presented Br. Peter Bray with a copy of ‘Love’s Redeeming Work,’ an anthology of spiritual writings by Anglicans from the 16th century to the 20th century, as a token of his appreciation for the hospitality and as a token of friendship. Br. Peter expressed this was something he would remember and treasure and stressed to the group that “It’s very important for those at Bethlehem University for you to come and stand in solidarity with us here.”
His Excellency left the Brothers, students and staff with the final words: “We want to wish to all your students a strengthening and a deepening of the strength that they show and for all of us who are here as pilgrims, there can be little more important than coming to a place which is not simply about the past, but is about, in Christian terms, Christ, yesterday, today, and forever. It is about the living work of the Gospel.”