Fr Anthony, Missio National Director and Fr Gabriel, Parish Priest in Gaza, in the Missio Chapel, London

I recently had the privilege of welcoming Fr Gabriel to stay with me. He is an Argentinian missionary and Parish Priest of one of the most challenging parishes in the world: the Holy Family Church in Gaza.

On 7 October last year, he was in the West Bank to purchase some medication for a Sister in his parish. The border was closed and sealed and the Israeli Defence Force invaded soon afterwards.

Fr Gabriel has tried repeatedly to return to his people in the parish but has been refused. Thankfully, he has been in constant contact with them and works tirelessly from afar to help the several hundred people taking shelter there.

You can watch his short message below

Prayers for those suffering

I assured Fr Gabriel that we would all pray for him and his community; the innocent victims of the war in Gaza; for the hostages and their families; and for anyone who is now suffering the futility of mindless violence in the Holy Land.

I remember my mission visit to Gaza several years ago only too well. I witnessed the enormous pressures of daily life: a high level of unemployment, the lack of reliable utilities such as water, food, and electricity, and the threats against Christians from the extremists.

Yet the Christian community soldiered on, providing education, a safe home for orphans, and basic healthcare for all. What is even more valuable, the small Christian presence offered hope of a better world when God’s goodness and mercy are allowed to take hold of people of goodwill.

Circumstances have changed and the situation surely cannot be much worse, but Fr Gabriel still embodies that hope, and he wants to be with his people.

I said to him that he must be the only one who wants to go back to Gaza! Most people want to leave Gaza, and understandably no one wants to visit a war zone.

Swimming against the tide

As I reflect on this, I realise that this is not surprising at all. The work of missionaries like Fr Gabriel – and you and me – is to swim again the tide of evil with courage; to move against the flow of forces in our world contrary to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

By working and praying together we can face up to evil and banish it into the darkness. And we do this with the overwhelming power of God’s love and mercy.

The work we do with you, together as Missio, is to reach out to those who are victims of poverty, injustice, violence, oppression, and exploitation, and share with them in word and action that they are not abandoned by God who is with them in their suffering.

With your support, missionaries can walk alongside our sisters and brothers, like those in Gaza, who are most in need; enabling them to transform their lives and escape the evils of extreme poverty and oppression.

Please join me in praying for a renewed commitment to peace with justice in the Holy Land and the many areas of our world where conflict and turmoil are part of everyday life. May we be instruments of God’s love and compassion for all his people by responding to Jesus’ call to share the Gospel with all of Creation.

Links and stories from this month’s eNews

CLICK HERE for details and to find a Mission Mass or event near you >>
Click here to find our Mission Today magazine and Impact Report in late May >>
CLICK HERE to download free children's Marian resources for May >>