June 2021 Newsletter

Author: Sr. Marie-Farouza Maximos

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Marhaba!  to all of our alumni and friends of Tantur!   A "warm" greeting of friendship to each of you! (since July and August are indeed warm here).  
We are happy to report that the borders are soon reopening for individual tourism starting August 1!  Hopefully the latest bout of covid variant will not impact that decision by the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health. Insh’allah!!   We are looking forward to our 3-Month and 6-Week Structured Sabbatical Program beginning “in person” in September!  

Ordination to the Syriac Priesthood.
Axios!  Our Program Director, Deacon Frederic Masson will be ordained to the Syriac Catholic Priesthood as “Abouna Jonas” on Saturday, July 10th.   We send our congratulations to Frederic (oops, “Jonas”) and his family (wife Stephanie Saldana and children Joseph, Carmel, and Sebastian).   Abouna Jonas will continue as Program Director until the end of the calendar year when he assumes the position of Pastor of the Syriac Catholic Church in Bethlehem.  It is good that he remains as a close “neighbor”!

Position Open:  Program Director
With Frederic/Jonas assuming a new position as pastor, Tantur Ecumenical Institute is now searching for his replacement as Program Director.  If any of you as Alumni and Friends of Tantur are interested or know of someone who might be interested in this important position at Tantur, we include a Job Description. This position is also posted on our Tantur.org website (News and Events).  We are hoping that the new person will be in place by Monday, November 14th.  


Welcome to Tantur’s Program Office! 
We are happy to welcome to the Tantur Program Staff Sr. Marie-Farouza Maximos, a religious within the Chemin-Neuf Community.  She will serve as a Program Office Intern for the next year, doing much of the work of the Program Office Coordinator.  The Chemin Neuf Community, a Catholic community with an ecumenical chrism and rooted both in Ignatian Spirituality and Charismatic Renewal, is committed to pray and work for Peace and Unity among Christians and between peoples.   Sr. Marie-Farouza has a Franco-Egyptian origin; she was born and raised in France and deeply loves the diversity of her double ethnicity, spirituality (Coptic and Roman), and cultures.  She studied Fine Arts, Literature and Theology and has spent several years in The Holy Land serving the Chemin Neuf Community and the Biblical Programs of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion.  Among her ministries and interests, Sr. Marie-Farouza is engaged in works of writing, drawing and photography as well as having been involved in the creation of a performance on the Song of Songs.  Most recently she has led a pastoral mission with young people in a Parish in Bordeaux, France.  Thus, our Program Office Staff represents the “ecumenical” mission of Tantur:  A Greek Catholic rector, a Syriac Program Director, and a Coptic/Roman Program Intern!  
We are “safe”!
Shukran (Thank you!) to so many of you who sent emails recently during the conflict between Israel and Gaza asking if we were safe and relaying prayers for a meaningful and sincere resolution to the Conflict.  While the hostilities between Gaza and Israel have ceased (Hamdillah!), demonstrations still continue within the Jerusalem Old City area because of an issue of eviction of Palestinians from Palestinian housing in East Jerusalem.  Your prayers are still requested for a just and sincere faith-based and faith-lived peace.
Tantur “Green Grocer”:  
Since our Kitchen Crew and Chefs have not been able to spend the full day providing us with their outstanding meals, they have shifted part of their work-day into creating a Tantur Garden!  Thus, this garden will provide the vegetables to be used in the meals served.  Why have store-bought when you can have “home grown”!!   AND, in addition, as the summer progresses, the fruits of our various trees Oranges, Lemons, Figs, Almonds, Pomegranate, etc.) will be harvested and made into various syrups and jams that we will be able to market under a Tantur label.  We are already selling Tantur Organic Olive Oil harvested and pressed from our Olive Trees!  Anyone have connections to Amazon.com??!!

Live-Stream Online Programing:
As stated in our last Tantur Newsletter, our Program Office will continue to produce online, live-stream programing in the coming months, including another Advent program, Lenten and Holy Week Series, as well as some newer programing on various topics concerning the Holy Land.  Plans are underway for a fiber-optic upgrade of our internet connections as well as the purchase of a “zoom cart” that enables our Program Office staff to be more efficient in producing and running our zoom conference presentations.  This Virtual Program has tapped into an interest world-wide of the programs Tantur offers.  “If you can’t come to the Holy Land, let Tantur bring the Holy Land to you.” Therefore, if any of you know of groups that would be interested in participating or would desire a “tailor made” live-stream online program for your local groups, please let us know.   We have the tour-guides, lecturers, and resources for spiritual reflection on sessions available.  As a final note, we have had a number of viewers who have commented, “These ‘virtual’ programs are quite good and only deepen my desire to participate ‘in person’.”  AMEN, your room is ready!!  
Save the Date(s)
Tantur Ecumenical Institute’s 50th Anniversary of openings its doors is in September of 2022.  Know that plans are underway to mark this occasion in festive style.  If you have ideas of how we could mark this event in a special way, “let ears hear” (as ‘Someone’ said…).  Contact the Rector at Tantur@tantur.org.  
“As It Was in the Beginning and Is Now…”
We recently received a photograph asking, “Is this Tantur’s Chapel?”  The photo is from 1972 when Tantur first opened its doors.  Thus, we share with you a “then” and a “now”. 


             How many changes can you identify??

From the Rector:
Having finished my first year as Rector, during an unusual year, I am excited that Tantur has opened a new "virtual program" to supplement our 'in person" programming.  Please know that we can work with groups in designing more of these virtual "Tantur Encounters" for those who cannot come to the Holy Land.  Obviously, with the pandemic and the closure of the borders to tourism, Tantur seems quite "empty" without program participants, scholars, and other students present.  Yet our staff remain quite cheerful and have kept the Tantur spirit of generosity and hospitality alive.  We are all anticipating with joy-filled hope the return of program participants in September.  
     I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate "Abouna Jonas" (still Frederic to many of us!) on his ordination and to thank him for his years of service to Tantur as Program Director.  He will be missed a great deal when he assumes his role of Pastor at the Syriac Church in Bethlehem come January.  While he will be missed, I have great hopes that our new Program Director (when hired) will fill his shoes and "then some".  (Applicants now being accepted!!)   Please keep this search in your prayers.  
      May you continue to encourage others to consider Tantur Ecumenical Institute for their continuing education program, sabbaticals, college study abroad, or parish pilgrimages!  

Take care,
Abouna JP