Mar Elias School in Ibillin - a success for the church, a success for the people
The next time I come to Israel, I want it to be to Ibillin to work with Christians at the Mar Elias school there. Michaline Chicour, cousin of Abouna Elias Chacour, founder of the school, shared with us the remarkable success at this effort to feed the hearts and minds of Palestinian Christian children.
In 1982, the Mar Elias school opened with 22 students. Today there are 5500 students from Kindergarten through college. While most are Christian, there are also Muslim, Druze, Bedouin, and Jewish kids,
some of whom come from as far as Beersheva (southern Israel) to attend the school. In addition to educational basics, children are taught to live together with others in peace and to appreciate differences of language and culture. Abouna Chicour, now Greek Catholic Primate for Northern Israel, built a church that seats 1200 people - the largest and newest church in Israel.
The school welcomes mission volunteers from all over the world. There's been a special connection with United Methodists, and this is why I want to come here next. I'd like to bring a group to this school, show them that Christianity is alive in Israel, have them work each morning while they're here, then show them the holy sites in Northern Israel each afternoon.
The spirit of the place rubs off. We all came away excited about the hope of teaching cooperation, love of diversity, and understanding of cultures. This is hope for the future.