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From: Joan's Rome


21 March 2016

posted in Bethlehem University Foundation by Joan Lewis



It was announced this morning in Maryland that the Bethlehem University Foundation has a new Executive Director, John Schlageter. I am delighted for many reasons, the first being that he is a good friend, the second that we share a great love for Bethlehem University and the third that we are both members of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher which means our hearts, prayers and many good works by the Order, are in the Holy Land year around.

John, a lawyer, is a friend to countless people in the U.S, Rome and around the world, especially all whom he came across in his nine years of work as General Counsel of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, thus legal assistant to Archbishop Timothy Broglio, head of the Military Ordinariate, a position he lived with great passion.

Sister Irene O’Neill, CSJ, chair of the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem University Foundation, made the announcement this morning of the unanimous choice, saying, “I am thrilled to announce the appointment of John L. Schlageter as Bethlehem University Foundation’s new Executive Director.  Bethlehem University is a jewel held in the heart of the Holy Land. Peace and excellence are ubiquitous there.  Our Foundation Board members reached for the stars to get the best person to help spread the message and we got him!  Don’t miss any opportunity to meet John.”

I’ve been in touch with John, of course, and asked for his reaction:

We spoke on the phone and in an email exchange. John said, “Joan, as a friend of Bethlehem University, you know what a tremendous difference BU makes in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. Bethlehem University offers one of the few remaining hopes for a future built on peace and respect.  When Brother Peter Bray, Vice Chancellor of the University, addressed Pope Francis in November of 2015, he called the University ‘an oasis of peace’.  As the new Executive Director of the Bethlehem University Foundation, I look forward to sharing the story of peace, hope, love, and Christian witness that is Bethlehem University with Catholics and people of good will across the United States.

John also reminded me that, “As members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, we know the many challenges that our Christian brothers and sisters living in the Middle East face each and every day.  Bethlehem University offers an opportunity for maintaining and supporting the Christian communities that have lived in the Holy Land since the time of Christ.  Bethlehem University is the only Catholic University in the Holy Land.  As we enter Holy Week, we must all remember that our faith started in a manger, under a star, in a little town called Bethlehem.”

Heartfelt congratulations to John and to all of us, especially Bethlehem University, as we will all benefit from his experience and leadership!

I think my readers know of my great love for the Holy Land, a place I’d visit at least once a month if that were possible. I’ve been to Bethlehem University on several occasions, the last being the night before Pope Francis said Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square during his May 2014 three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The University is run by the Christian Brothers, and I was delighted to join them for dinner the night before the papal Mass and to stay the night in a guest apartment. The morning of the papal visit, one of the Fathers walked me to the edge of Manger Square where my media credentials were my entrance to the papal venue.

Tours to the Holy Land rarely bring pilgrims to Bethlehem University and that is a shame in many ways, although I fully realize that classes and campus life would be continually interrupted.

Here is a link to BU:


A link to the Bethlehem University Foundation:


Here are a few photos I took on my first visit to BU

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Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine