The Comboni Missionary Sisters recently celebrated fifty years of presence in Bethany, in the Palestinian territory. The town is separated from nearby Jerusalem by the Israeli West Bank barrier.
On Saturday, March 5th, a multitude of people celebrated the anniversary via a film screening on the history and spirituality of the community founded by Bishop Daniel Comboni. As recounted in the Bishop’s writings, he visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem and stopped at the Holy Sepulchre before beginning his apostolic work in Sudan.
The celebration was attended by Rabbi Jeremy Milgram (who is involved in the work the Sisters do for the Bedouins), Dr Diddy Mymin Kahn (who collaborated with Comboni Sister Azezet on a book about helping survivors of torture), and Dr Betina Birmans (a neurologist who is a member of Physicians For Human Rights), amongst others.
In the Holy Land, the Comboni Sisters currently carry out their apostolic mission mostly by providing education and general assistance to the Bedouins, asylum seekers, and foreign women. The Sisters of Bethany run a school that now serves the children of East Jerusalem. In the past, the school was also attended by the children of Bethany – until the Israeli West Bank barrier was erected between the school and the Palestinian city. At the beginning, an open door in the wall allowed children from Bethany to continue to attend the Comboni school; later, even that passage was closed.
There is also a Comboni community in the Jordanian city of Kerak. Sister Adele Brambilla, superior of the Kerak community, said: “Bishop Daniel Comboni gave us his Spirit, that brings together the poor and excluded. This is why we are in Kerak, a predominantly Muslim area, at the service of the poorest of the poor and the excluded: Bedouins and Syrian refugees, to whom we offer hospitality and medical care — which they cannot find anywhere else”.