Catholic Pastor in Gaza: “No One Knows What Lies Ahead.”

Father Gabriel Romanelli, pastor of Holy Family parish in Gaza, spoke of “overwhelming feelings of uncertainty” in the wake of the massive attack on Israel launched by Hamas militiamen on October 7.

Fides News Agency is reporting on the reaction of Father Romanelli, an Argentinian priest and member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, to Saturday’s attack that has resulted in 1,700 deaths so far.

“No one knows what lies ahead, and unfortunately there are no signs that what started yesterday may end soon,” Father Romanelli told Fides. “For situations much less serious than the current one, very long wars started here previously. And now in the face of all this, I am constantly reminded of Pope Pius XII’s appeal before the outbreak of World War II: nothing is lost with peace, everything can be lost with war. These are words also repeated by St. John Paul II.”

The local population knows the history of the region and is responding to the newly declared war with Israel with uncertainty and foreboding.

The only thing left to do at this point is to “pray and hope that the war will end as soon as possible, to make it less difficult for the wounds to heal and then work for the justice and peace that so many Israelis and Palestinians desire within their hearts.”

Of the 2.3 million people who live in the Gaza Strip, there are only 1,017 Christians. Most belong to the Greek Orthodox church with 136, or 30 families, making up the Catholic congregation at Holy Family.

Despite their small numbers, Father Romanelli and nine nuns who are currently in Gaza do whatever they can to provide spiritual support to the community. This past spring, during the five days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, they looked for ways to offer

psychological and emotional support to the people.

“In the parish, we are always busy providing them with activities and events so life can be as normal as possible,” Father Romanelli told OSV News. “We have games and events and bingo and horseback riding. We take them to the beach.”


During that five day conflict, which ended in a ceasefire on May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Father would venture out in his car with a Vatican flag on the roof to identify them as Catholics.

At the moment, there is no end in sight to the hostilities and the Catholic world is rallying around the innocent people who have been caught up in the conflict.

Speaking to faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Oct. 8 Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis said, “I am following with apprehension and pain what is happening in Israel, where violence has exploded even more ferociously, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries.”

He went on to express his closeness to the families of those who had lost loved ones. “I pray for them and for all those who are experiencing hours of terror and of anguish,” he said, then went on to implore both sides to “please stop the attacks and weapons and understand that terrorism and war do not lead to any solution, but only to the death and suffering of many innocent people.”

He added: “War is a defeat, every war is always a defeat” and begged the faithful to join him in praying for peace in the Middle East.

In a statement issued by Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, condemned the violence which began on October 7, the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

“The world is once again shocked and horrified by the outbreak of ferocious violence in the Holy Land. Reports have surfaced indicating large numbers of wounded and dead, including many civilians,” Bishop Malloy said. “May all who love the Holy Land seek to bring about among all the parties engaged in the fighting a cessation of violence, respect for civilian populations and the release of hostages.”

He asked the faithful to pray for peace and especially for the grieving families of the victims. “We call on the faithful, and all people of good will to not grow weary and to continue to pray for peace in the land Our Lord, the Prince of Peace, called home.”

That this tragic event began on the Feast of the Holy Rosary is no accident. If there was ever at time to answer Our Lady’s call to pray her Rosary for peace in the world, it is now!
“We have seen the power of the Rosary change the course of history countless times in the past,” says Johnnette Williams, author of The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare.

“The faithful recitation of the Rosary has brought about astounding victories over the forces of evil in the world, from the famous battle of Lepanto in 1571 when an outgunned Christian navy miraculously defeated the well-equipped Turks, to the mysterious routing of Communist forces from Brazil in 1964. We can do it again! Let us all take up our Rosaries and, with faith and trust in the power of God and the intercession of Our Lady, pray for a true and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

Click here to sign up for the Women of Grace Rosary Crusade which takes place every Wednesday at 4 PM ET via online ZOOM and Facebook Live.

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