The rains of spring have brought forth the blooming of the anenomies and the blossoming of the almond and fruit trees. The olive trees are filled with the growth of the new fruit and the fig trees are just budding. We even had a snow storm a couple of weeks ago! While it w as only about 3” (still unusual for Jerusalem) and incomparable to what many of you have faced this winter, it was a very wet, heavy snow that downed branches and trees on the property as well as around the area. Through this newsletter, we want to update you on what’s been happening in the past few months, both the “Good” and the “Not So Good” News—OR how TEI has “used lemons to make lemonade!”
The “Lemon”: Like with other areas of the world, Covid has suspended our regular programs this past year. We have gone through at least four major lockdowns, each having several weeklong “extensions, resulting in businesses being closed for many weeks and thus impacting the economy. Yet Tantur made the decision to keep our employees working and as a result, the interior is now glowing with freshly painted hallways, bedrooms, and public meeting rooms.
The Lemonade: Tantur is “Re-Opening”!!! As covid restrictions lessen and things reopen, Tantur is “open for business” effective April 1 for groups or individuals to come here for retreats, group meetings, or family events, while still maintaining safety procedures: group sizes, masks, social distancing, etc. We remain hope-filled that soon the government will reopen the borders for pilgrims so that we can hold our first “in person” programs in a year—our June and July Programs!! While Inquiries about our programs continue to come in, please continue to encourage others to come to the Holy Land and experience our Tantur programs.
Tantur goes “Live Steam”!! Since Covid prevented people from coming to the Holy Land for our programs, a growing friendship and partnership with the Ignatian Spirituality Community of Geneva, Switzerland, has opened the door for letting Tantur bring the Holy Land to you!” through online, live-streamed programs. Advent of 2020 allowed us to make use of our tour guides and lecturers in presenting a 5-week series and a Lenten Virtual “Way of the Cross” through the Via Dolorosa in Old City Jerusalem (Retreats and Way of the Cross). Because of their success, we are presenting two Easter programs: aHoly Week Seriesand“On the Way to Pentecost”. Please feel welcome to register for and participate in these live-stream (or recorded) events! A very special thank you to ISC partners Petra Lindner and Stephen Smith as they continue to work with us in providing this new way of living out our mission.
New Tantur Website! Not having in person programs at Tantur has given TEI the opportunity to work closely with the University of Notre Dame in renewing and upgrading the Tantur Ecumenical Institute website. Some of our Tantur alumni will recognize photos they have shared with us! Upcoming Ordination: Axios! Axios! Axios! Our TEI Program Director, Frederic Masson, presently a deacon in the Syriac Catholic Church, has been approved for priestly ordination. This special event will take place the latter part of May or early June. Congrats to Frederic and his family!!
The Taize International Young Adult Conference is being planned for May of 2022 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Tantur is co-host and co-planners with Taize, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Brothers of Taize have partnered with Tantur in the past years to assist our programs in having a more meaningful ecumenical prayer experience. We are so grateful for what they add to our mission!
Alumni News: Please feel free to send us noteworthy things to share in our newsletters. We want to do what we can to continue the Tantur experience and the Tantur “community”.
Special Note from Fr. John Paul, SJ (Rector): Returning to Tantur (2013 6-Week Program participant!) has been a wonderful experience for me and a sense of “coming home”. I have experienced again the warm welcome and hospitality from each of the staff here and their willingness to assist and make sure that I am well cared for. There is a sacredness to hospitality and Tantur is a place of both great hospitality and sacredness. I also share with family and friends something else that is part of my encounter at Tantur—the “spirituality” that surrounds this place. I hear five times a day the Muslim call to prayer. Mornings and afternoons, I hear the ringing of church bells announcing Christian prayer times. I see around the city those wearing items that proclaim their Jewish traditions and practices as well as a city that comes to a halt on Friday evenings and Saturday to “keep holy the Sabbath.” Each of these invite me to remember that I, too, am continually being called to prayer as I live in and walk on “holy ground”, especially in this season where Easter, Passover, and Ramadan are so closely timed and linked. It is this experience that I desire to continue to weave into all of our programs and gatherings here at Tantur, whether “in person” or via “online.” I welcome your ideas and thoughts on how to do this more effectively. May your Passover, Easter, or Ramadan be filled with God’s continuous blessings