Pastoral activity: The Parish
The most important activity carried out by the Parish on its territory is spiritual assistance and serving as a gathering place for the local community, via a wide variety of means. Among these we can note:
Catholic Action Center
Under the auspices of the Franciscan Fathers, the Catholic Action Center in Bethlehem was established in 1956 as the principal social center for the Christians of Bethlehem. Today it serves as an oasis for a beleaguered Bethlehem.
The Center, located near Manger Square in Bethlehem, represents for Palestinian Christians a place of relief from the harsh realities of daily life in the Holy Land.
The Center contains a theater, swimming pool, classrooms, computer laboratory, kitchen, offices and a new fitness room. In recent years a conference center for adult education and catechesis has been added, as well as a new sport center in which young local Christians can play football and basketball. A new sports hall that will accommodate 700 spectators for basketball games is under construction. This will be the only one of its kind in the West Bank and will host competitions between different towns.
The recreation center is a meeting point for people of all ages. It is a place for friendship, communion and brotherhood. Moments of shared recreation are enjoyed by the entire community. In addition, each year the Center organizes summer camps offering young children and adolescents the possibility to develop and to make good use of their free time. The camps are managed by the Franciscans, nuns and numerous volunteers.
Youth groups and catechesis:
Youth animation and the catechesis for the Sacraments is another important field of activity carried out by the Parish in the Bethlehem area, together with a music school for young people who wish to study that subject. There are three groups whose meeting place is the Catholic Action recreation center.
The Scouts, who have a marked presence throughout the Holy Land, began in Bethlehem in 1932 at the wish of the then director of the Terra Santa Boys School. For this reason Scouting is linked more closely to the school environment than to that of the Parish.
The group is very vibrant and active, and is particularly visible during the Christmas festivities.
Secular Franciscan Order
In Bethlehem there is a local brotherhood of Secular Franciscans who live the charism of the Poor Man of Assisi in this world and express it in their daily lives, in their families and in the service of the local church.
The Secular Franciscan Order is made up of Christians who, by a specific vocation, and through a solemn profession, commit themselves to living the Gospel in the manner of St. Francis, in their own secular state, observing the specific Rules approved by the Church.
The SFO is one of the three basic components of the Franciscan family, which consists of: friars; the contemplative religious; and the secular along with institutes of men and women religious engaged in apostolic activities. The specificity of this charism is that of the lay state, which allows the brotherhood to form a community of faith that, in the Franciscan style, can be an open place of welcome and communion.
Legionaries of Mary
The Legion of Mary is an international lay Catholic movement whose members wish to participate in the evangelizing mission of the Church. In Bethlehem there is a community that embodies this spirit as part of the local Christian community.