Bishop Donal McKeown and international delegation of bishops to meet young Palestinians and Israelis in the Holy Land

11 Jan 2018

A key purpose of our pilgrimage is to remind the Christian communities in the Holy Land that they are not forgotten by their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.” – Bishop McKeown

Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, along with bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa will meet in the Holy Land over the coming days to promote dialogue and peace, while meeting young people.

This annual visit was set up 20 years ago at the invitation of the Holy See with the aim of visiting and supporting the Holy Land’s local Christian communities as they experience the political and socio-economic realities of living in Israel and Palestine.

This year the focus of the bishops’ pilgrimage will be on education and young people.  It will involve a series of meetings and visits to promote the value of education for young people and the importance education has in building peace in the region.  In addition to meeting students and young people from Gaza, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the bishops will also meet the Parents Circle – Families Forum, a body which brings together more than 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost a relation due to the prolonged conflict and who today, through various initiatives, support peace, reconciliation and tolerance.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem will also present to the bishops their aim to promote education as an instrument of peace and justice, followed by a series of visits to Christian schools administered directly by the Latin Patriarchate. In Emmaus-Qubeibeh, the bishops will visit a home for the elderly and will meet some young volunteers working there. Brother Peter Bray, Vice-Rector of the University of Bethlehem, will present the Qubeibeh Nursing Programme (QNP): a programme which offers job opportunities for young people in a largely rural area, with high levels of unemployment and many social and political problems.

This year the Holy Land Co-ordination 2018 will celebrate Sunday Mass on 14 January with the small Christian community in Gaza, followed by a visit to the House of Peace run by the Missionaries of Charity; a brief meeting with young Christians and a pastoral visit to the sick in the community.

The meeting is organised by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The programme open to the media is reproduced below. To join the bishops, to interview the visiting bishops or for further information please contact [email protected]/ 0044 (0)7983 704 097

Photographs will be available at


Notes for Editors

  • The Holy Land Co-ordination, made up of bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa, was established 20 years ago at the invitation of the Holy See with the aim of visiting and supporting the Holy Land’s local Christian communities.
  • The Co-ordination’s raison d’être can be expressed through the “3 Ps”: Prayer, Pilgrimage, Persuasion.
  • Prayer is the framework within which the annual meeting takes place, with the daily celebration of the Eucharist, often in different Rites and with the local Catholic communities.
  • Pilgrimage: The bishops go individually or in groups to visit the Catholic communities, meeting their members and at times local political figures, too. In difficult times, the visiting bishops have often listened to requests for a greater presence of pilgrims, and there has been a concerted and successful effort on the part of the Bishops’ Conferences to encourage pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
  • Persuasion refers to the work undertaken after the annual meeting, when the bishops return home and speak to their own Governments, Members of Parliament, Israeli and Palestinian Ambassadors and to the media about a vast range of questions concerning the lives of Christians. In line with the approach adopted by the Holy See elsewhere, the bishops do not seek privileges for Christians, but dignity and justice for them and for others who live in similar conflict situations.

The following bishops will take part in the Holy Land Co-ordination:

Bishop Declan Lang (Clifton, England and Wales – Co-ordinator)

Bishop Lionel Gendron (Saint-Jean Longueuil, Canada)

Bishop Udo Bentz (Mainz, Germany)

Archbishop Riccardo Fontana (Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro, Italy)

Bishop Donal McKeown (Derry, Ireland)

Bishop Pierre Bürcher (Iceland)

Bishop Mgr José Ornela Carvalho (Setubal, Portugal)

Bishop William Kenney (Birmingham, England and Wales)

Bishop Nicholas Hudson (Westminster, England and Wales)

Bishop Christopher Chessun (Church of England, United Kingdom)

Bishop William Nolan (Galloway, Scotland)

Archbishop Joan-Enric Vives Sicilia (Urgell, Spain)

Archbishop Mgr Stephen Brislin (Cape Town, South Africa)

Bishop Mgr Dr. Felix Gmür (Basel, Switzerland)

Bishop Oscar Cantu (La Cruces, USA)


The programme open to the media to join the Bishops is as follows:             

HOLY LAND COORDINATION PROGRAMME 2018                             

Sunday 14th January

                        10:00                Sunday Mass with the parishioners of Holy Family parish – Gaza

                                                Brief visit to the House of Peace Missionaries of Charity – CRS project

                                                Meeting with Christian young people                            Gaza

                                                of Gaza

                                                Pastoral visits to the sick and housebound                     Gaza

                        14:00                Depart the parish for the Erez Border

Monday 15th January

                        07:00                Melkite Divine Liturgy                                     Melkite Cathedral


                        10:00                Arrive at the LPJ                                                          Beit Jala

                                                Schools Administration Offices

                                                Education – a way to peace and justice                           Beit Jala

                                                Fr. Iyad Twal

                                                Director of Education – Latin Patriarchate

                                                Pastoral Visits to schools: Beit Jala; Beit Sahour; Bethlehem L’Arche

                                                (3 separate groups)

                        16:30                Meeting with young people                                           Hebrew University

                                                                                                                                    Mount Scopus

                                                Law students studying multiculturalism and diversity.

                                                They look after legal cases for people who have been

                                                Discriminated against.

Tuesday 16th January

                        07:15                Mass                                                                            Jerusalem

                                                Co-Cathedral Latin Patriarchate

                                                Principal Celebrant – Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo

                        11:15                Visit to the Mor Jewish High School                             Makabim-Reut

                        17:30                Parents Circle Families Forum                                       Knights Palace   

Wednesday 17th January

                        09:30                Arrive Emmaus-Qubeibeh


                                                Qubeibeh is one of the three villages that compete for being the biblical “Emmaus” of Luke 24. Next to QNP there is the Church of Cleopas, where the risen Lord is said to have had dinner with the two disciples.


                                                Welcome to Qubeibeh                                                   Qubeibeh

                                                Sr. Hildegard

                                                Young volunteers, staff & residents

                                                Visit the Home for the Elderly

                        10:15                Qubeibeh Nursing Programme (QNP)                            Qubeibeh

                                                Br. Peter Bray

                                                Vice Chancellor – Bethlehem University

                                                The QNP is a good example of a programme that

                                                gives perspectives and future job opportunities to young

                                                people in a mainly rural area, with high levels of

                                                unemployment and many social and political problems.

                                                The level of excellence in QNP is high and since 2011

                                                almost 100% of the graduates have found jobs

                                                mainly in East Jerusalem.


                              12:00                Mass – Church of St. Cleopas                                        Qubeibeh                                                                                   

 Thursday 18th January


                        10:00               Mass – Blessed Sacrament Chapel                                  Jerusalem

                                                Church of the Holy Sepulchre   

                                                Principal Celebrant – Bishop Declan Lang                                                           


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Katie Crosby 00353 (0) 86 862 3298