Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Catholics living in Gaza cling to their faith and the opportunity to love others more


File photo of Holy Family Catholic Parish in GazaFile photo of Holy Family Catholic Parish in Gaza 

‘War in Gaza an invitation to care for each other more’

Suhail Abo Dawod, an 18-year-old Catholic sheltering at the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, expresses his belief that the war offers people an opportunity to love each other more and change their attitudes.

By Devin Watkins

Over 700 people have taken refuge in the Holy Family Catholic Parish in northern Gaza after the Israel-Hamas war broke out on 7 October.

They have banded together as a Christian community, with Mass celebrated twice-daily and countless Rosaries prayed for peace and protection.

Yet, they are also enduring hardship as water and food supplies run low and the practical difficulties of living and sleeping in a church for over 3 weeks wear on their morale.

One young man among the group, Suhail Abo Dawod, has become a voice of insight and hope for the outside world, as he continues to send brief letters that reveal his desire to cling to Christ amid uncertainty and trials.

A message from God for Gazan Christians

In his most recent letter, penned on Monday, 30 October, and seen by Vatican News, Mr. Abo Dawod admitted that he had endured “another tough and hard day of the war here in Gaza.”

At the same time, he took the chance to offer a few “simple spiritual thoughts” which avoid the politics of war.

“I strongly believe that this war is a message for all humanity, for us, for all,” he said. “But I also think there is a message from God for our Christian community in Gaza.”

Learning to love and sacrifice for others

“Every cloud has a silver lining,” goes the old proverb.

And Mr. Abo Dawod feels that the war is offering “a hard lesson of life.”

“Perhaps, all of us, after the war, are called to love more and help each other more, like a single family, exactly like how Jesus helped and served others,” he said. “We have to sacrifice like how Jesus sacrificed Himself for us.”

Attitudes and behaviors will need to change after such a difficult time, added Mr. Abo Dawod.

“We will live a different lifestyle,” he said. “We will help each other with a big and unique heart, serving the people as Jesus healed people from a lot of diseases, by His big and handsome soul.”

A heavenly dwelling

The young Catholic concluded his letter by recalling a lesson he has already learned after an Israeli airstrike destroyed his earthly residence in Gaza on Wednesday, 25 October.

“I consider Jesus as my true home. Jesus is my home of peace and love in this savage world,” he wrote.

And with an eye to the future, Mr. Abo Dawod recalled a quote from Thomas Moore: “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

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