Each January, over 100,000 pro-life advocates participate in the March For Life in Washington, D.C. This visible form of peaceful protest has become an important and powerful way to stand up for life.
There is another far less visible, yet indispensable, pro-life work accomplished everyday—just 1,500 steps from the birthplace of Christ.
The Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem, in which over 4,000 babies are delivered each year, is located on the West Bank in Palestine and is known as the "birthplace of hope." To see the tiniest of humans in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit of the hospital, with their little white and red caps, is to understand why this hospital is such a vital presence in the Holy Land.
Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem is truly a beacon of light, serving mostly poor and at-risk women, infants, and children not only throughout the West Bank, but in remote desert villages and United Nations refugee camps in the region. No one is turned away.
"Holy Family Hospital is a place of everyday and wonderful miracles. It is truly a gift of life," said Michele Burke Bowe, president of the Holy Family Hospital Foundation, in a recent interview with EWTN. When asked about the present conflict in the region, Bowe explained, "We look at the challenge of the conflict in the region—both the political and economic challenges—as our grace. We employ 170 Palestinians. They are Muslim and they are Christian—and they are working together to produce the gift of life."
Founded in 1888 by the French Daughters of Charity, the hospital began as a general hospital for Bethlehem's sick, which is how it operated until 1985, when economic and political factors forced the sisters to close its doors. Providentially, in 1989, at the request of Saint John Paul II, the Order of Malta took over the operation and management of the Hospital, converting it into a specialized maternity unit. Since then, Holy Family Hospital has delivered over 85,000 babies. Guided by the values and traditions of the Catholic Church, the Daughters of Charity, and the Order of Malta, Holy Family Hospital is a beloved institution where Christians and Muslims serve the neediest of families in the region.
The Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation, whose mission is to deliver life, peace, and hope in the Holy Land, is what makes this life-giving hospital possible. A primary work of the Order of Malta (the world's oldest Christian charity), the Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., which serves to further the Catholic values of preserving life, fostering peace, and giving hope to those without a voice.
For many of us in the United States, the West Bank in Palestine seems far, far away. Yet when we think about the fact that just 1,500 steps from the Holy Family Hospital is where Christ lay as a newborn child, we can understand why this truly remarkable place is important to all Christians.
Yet there is another place that stands as a more sinister reminder. Not far from Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem lies the Grotto of the Innocents, the location of the incident in the Gospel of Matthew in which Herod, king of Judea, ordered the execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem. On one of her recent visits to the Holy Land, Michele Burke Bowe visited the Chapel of the Holy Innocents. "It's a special place just behind the Church of the Grotto (the Nativity), and there I saw the artifacts from those babies...and it made me think that we are just 1,500 steps from where Christ was born—but we are also 1,500 steps from the place where the Holy Innocents were martyred. This compels us further as Christians to help the babies and the poor and needy in Bethlehem."
A true juxtaposition to the death of the innocents, Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem stands as a beacon of light.
There are many opportunities to get involved in this amazing, pro-life cause in The Holy Land:
- Pray: Pray for the patients and their families, the doctors, nurses, and staff, and for the Foundation and all involved in promoting the work of the Holy Family Hospital.
- Donate: Patients at Holy Family Hospital are asked to pay only what they can afford. The remaining cost is covered by financial contributions from generous supporters like you. Donations are essential as needs are always high.
- Babies in Bethlehem: Join in our faith-in-action Advent program designed to bring Advent to life in Catholic parishes and parochial schools nationwide in support of Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem.
- Parish Involvement: Ask your pastor to designate Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation as a second collection/Poor Box recipient.
- Planned Giving: Remembering the most vulnerable and poor of Bethlehem in your will is a wonderful way to provide support for Holy Family Hospital in perpetuity.