Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
Lieutenancy of Canada-Vancouver



Beit Sahour is a Palestinian city adjoining Bethlehem and 15minutes drive from Jerusalem. This is the area of “Shepherd’s Field” of the New Testament. Beit Sahour is a city of 14,000 of which 10,000 are Christian and 1,500 are Roman Catholic.

The Palestinian Christians are generally an educated category of people because of the many private schools present there for 150 years.

Beit Sahour has long been recognized as the “Breadbasket” of the region as agriculture was a main source of income. The area is famous for the skilled artisans throughout the Holy Land. A considerable number of the citizens work in tourism-related occupations as well as nursing and teaching professions.

This city of Beit Sahour has been drastically affected by the long years of occupation. The imposed hardships, confiscation of lands and encouraged exodus has had an overwhelming affect on the local economy. Many families including many Christians have left their traditional homeland.

It is remarkable that in a small town like Beit Sahour, which is predominantly Christian, there are about 30 PhD’s and more than 600 BA’s in varying subjects with less than 1% illiterate. Yet many families in Palestine even today go to their parish to ask for charity to provide for their daily needs. At least 15% are in severe need of charity to buy food and medicine and 80% have endured hardship as they were unable to afford hospital bills, monthly rent, electricity and water bills.

The absence of a Palestinian state with the institutions to organize the civilian society lead to lawlessness. It has been inevitable that the Christian minority has been the victim of this lawlessness.

The School/Parish.

The parish was first served by the Franciscan Fathers and the Latin Patriarchate took charge in 1859.

The parish school was founded in 1846 by the first missionary Fr. Jean Moretain, who was a French architect. The Rosary Sisters were responsible for running the school for many years.

The school has 366 students of whom 87% are Christians. The school population is mixed (boys and girls) with a complete curriculum of studies, and goes from Kindergarten (4 teachers and 60 children) to High School. The standard of education is high; all students in 12th Grade passed the Tawijihi government exam last year. The school was constructed by the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and was renewed last year with Spanish Cooperation. There are 31 teachers and staff. The cost per student in Beit Sahour school is $891. Per student. The necessary expenditures amount to double what it collects from the students.

The new Parish Priest of Beit Sahour is Fr. Faysal Saleh Hijazin formerly vice-rector of the seminary in Beit Jala. He is very active and greatly appreciated as pastor of the Parish and support to the school.

Beit Sahour parish has given 6 priests to the Latin Patriarchate. Three of whom are alive now, they are all Shomalis, the current Rector of the Seminary is Msgr.William Shomali being one of them.

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah insists that financial deprivation or lack of money will not prevent any Christian student from receiving quality education in the Patriarchal school system in the Holy Land.

The Grand Magisterium of the Order directs its resources to the education of the Christian population. The Lieutenancy of Canada-Vancouver, in the West, along with Canada-Toronto and Canada Atlantic (Magistral Delegation) have accepted the responsibility of providing for the parish school in Beit Sahour.

The Lieutenancies of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem have made many pilgrimages to the Holy Land in recent years. The Lieutenancy of Canada-Vancouver from Western Canada under the leadership of His Excellency Dr. Declan P. Lawlor was joined by members of the Canada-Toronto Lieutenancy for a pilgrimage in October 2004, which included a visit with the teachers and students at Beit Sahour school. The Kindergarten children had a bright, delightful, innocence in their smiles, which screamed out welcome and confirmed to those present the value of their commitment to the children’s education and welfare.

Beit Sahour School is in our focus.

To View More Photos of Beit Sahour - The School and the Community

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