In September 2022, the Vatican News published an online article called “The Children’s Home in Bethlehem, a Place of Care to “Learn to Love”. Founded in 2007 and supported by the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), this residential project welcomes 27 children who find themselves in challenging situations. This year, the Home celebrates its 15th anniversary. The children’s home is a place that lovingly accepts children and adolescents from difficult social and economic situations. The boys live in the home Monday through Saturday afternoon, as if it was their own home. It is a place that offers support they would not otherwise find in society. Local residents, friars, employees and young people participated in a Mass to celebrate its 15-year inception.
Br. Tomašević reflects, “What children see, they learn. Here they feel at home”. The director of the Home believes that children develop a fundamental spirit of closeness and love. They will treat others how they are treated.
Full Article transcribed from Italian to English
The House of the Child in Bethlehem, a Place of Care to “Learn to Love”
The experiment born in 2007 in the Holy Land celebrates fifteen years since its foundation. The residential project, supported by the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, now welcomes 27 young people. Fr. Sandro Tomašević: “Feeling loved is fundamental. The children here feel at home.”
Debora D’Angelo – Vatican City
From a simple after-school project, to a real residential project that today welcomes 27 children in difficult situations. In 2007, in Bethlehem, was inaugurated the Casa del Fanciullio, a structure for the day and residential reception for children and adolescents from difficult social and economic contexts and situations of extreme vulnerability and degradation. From that moment on, the boys began to live permanently in the house, from Monday to Saturday afternoon, just as if it were their home. Today the House of the Child is a solid reality, where some reside and others come in the afternoon to study: it is a place that offers a support that would hardly have been found in society, or even in the same families, where they are often neglected. On the day of the fifteenth year since its foundation, a Mass was celebrated in which friars, young people, operators, employees and operators participated.
Casa del Fanciullo
The Franciscan House currently welcomes 27 young people, who come from different difficult contexts in search of a point of reference: a family to trust and grow with. The project began with Father Marwan – says the director of the House, Fr. Sandro Tomašević – who is a real father for the children who passed through our facility”. It is not an institution, but a consolidated reality where Franciscan education is spread to all those who decide to attend it. In addition, various activities take place, including pilgrimages and visits.
One of the pillars of the House of the Child is certainly caring. “We provide for all the needs of children – explains the director – as would their parents”. Responding to the needs of children and adolescents is one of the tasks that the Franciscan structure tries to accomplish in the best way, spreading above all the value of being in the family.
Learning to love in the family
Pope Francis himself recalled that “the family is the place where we learn to love”. The structure of Bethlehem, which is 15 years old, is a concrete example of the Pontiff’s words: a place of encounter and sharing to get out of oneself, welcome others and be close to them. “What children see – says Br. Tomašević – they learn. Here they feel at home”.
Closeness and sharing
Through the work of all those involved in the Children’s Home, young people develop a new spirit: closeness, care and sharing are the basis of a peaceful life in communion with others. “Feeling loved – concludes the director of the House – is fundamental: they treat others, as they are treated”.