3175 Paulskirk Dr, Ellicott City, MD 21042     (410) 461-9112

Palestinian Sister Church

Committee Members

Subcommittee Members
    Joe Hensley, Chair
    Colleen Guler
    Linda Hunt
    Bob Krasnansky
    Don Rogers
    New members are always welcome.
For more information
    Please contact Joe Hensley at joehensley1@verizon.net

Palestinian Sister Church

Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church (St. Mary's)

The Purpose of a Sister Church

To show solidarity with and give hope to fellow Catholics in stressful situations. St. Mary's has been our Palestinian sister church since 2004.

Our Lady of Sorrows church is in Aboud, about an hour north of Jerusalem in the West Bank. Aboud means “worshipping” in Arabic. There are about 2500 residents, about half of whom are Christians. Jesus is believed to have passed through Aboud on the Roman road from Galilee to Jerusalem. The town is known for its olive trees and grapes and has three olive oil processing plants.

History of St. Mary’s Parish
At the Jerusalem Diocese website: http://fr.lpj.org/2010/09/27/aboud-parish/

Father Yousef Rizek became pastor in the summer of 2011. He is also the principal of the parish’s K-8 school. The school has 270 students, 200 Muslim and 70 Christian. There is no friction between the students. One really can’t tell them apart except for some older Muslim girls who wear a scarf over their hair. As for religious training, Christian children learn the Bible and Christianity. The religion teacher is from Bethlehem and has a Masters Degree in theology from St. Michael’s College in Vermont. Muslim teachers teach the Muslim students the Koran and Muslim values. Students attend classes Monday to Thursday, and Saturday. There is no school on Friday, which is the Sabbath for Muslims. Tuition is just under $500. Families pay what they can afford, with many paying little or nothing. There is a free public school in Aboud, but Muslim parents send their children to St. Mary’s school because, as a former pastor put it, the education and the discipline are better.
St. Mary’s parishioners have said that their two biggest concerns are the lack of jobs and not being able to get around freely. Roadblocks and checkpoints impede economic development and job creation as do Israeli regulations which hinder exports. Israeli regulations now forbid Israelis from entering and shopping in Aboud, which used to be a good source of income for merchants there. The roadblocks and checkpoints, parishioners say, make them feel like prisoners. They limit access to jobs, friends and shopping in the West Bank and to hospitals in Jerusalem.
Many in our Sister Parish lost their jobs when the Israelis built their Separation Barrier and stopped letting them enter Israel for work. The Israeli Separation Barrier goes out of its way to confiscate Aboud’s water supply. The Israelis now pipe Aboud’s water to Israel and to illegal settlements, and sell some back to Aboud. The custom for Israel is to sell Palestinians’ water back to them at several times the price they sell it to Israelis. Building the Separation Barrier led to the destruction of an estimated 2000 olive trees. The Barrier separates people from 1600 acres more of their olive trees. Olive trees can each earn in excess of $200 a year.
  • Three Chocolate Festival fundraisers.
  • Fair trade olive oil from the West Bank fund-raiser.
  • Skyping: our pastor Msgr. Dietzenbach has skyped with St. Mary's pastor, Fr. Rizek, as have Resurrection parishioners. Resurrection school students have also skyped with St. Mary's students.
  • Educational events. We've had several speakers, including Bishop Denis Madden, who worked in Jerusalem for six years.
  • Five Ecumenical or Interfaith Services of Prayer for Peace in the Middle East. Speakers have included a priest from the Middle East and a rabbi.
  • Over 300 Resurrection parishioners signed letters to our U.S. senators about the Israelis confiscating Aboud's water. Senator Ben Cardin subsequently went to Aboud with other congressmen to see for himself. Three hundred parishioners signed a thank you letter to Senator Cardin for doing this.
  • We have sent our Sister Church pictures, cards signed by members of committees, and a very large banner signed by hundreds of parishioners.
  • We have raised money to help renovate homes, repair the Church bells, give tuition aid and support their summer camp.
  • Parishioners visited St. Mary's in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
  • Fair trade olive oil from the West Bank fund-raisers
  • Skypes with St. Mary's and Resurrection's clergy, parishioners and students
  • Provide educational opportunities
  • Have prayer services for peace
  • Visit the Holy Land and St. Mary's every other year.