January 2017 Trip to Holy Family Hospital

Here it is! A look into our week-long, behind-the-scenes trip to Holy Family Hospital and some of the Order of Malta’s ancient hospitals in the Holy Land.

Not only was this the first Hospital visit for our new Foundation Director, Jen McNulty, but we also had two special guests from the Order of Malta’s Federal Association joining us: H.E. Margaret Melady, Federal Association President, and Deacon Michael Stankewicz, Executive Director.

HFHF President Michele Bowe, DM and HFHF Operations Manager Molly Moesel served as our knowledgeable tour guides throughout the week.

Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation's Margaret Melady, Jen McNulty, Michele Bowe, Deacon Michael Stankewicz, and Molly Moesel in the Holy Land

Our trip began on the northern coast of the Mediterranean in the town of Akko, which is home to one of the Order of Malta’s oldest hospitals. We saw where the hospitallers of old treated the sick using remedies that were considered groundbreaking for their time. Their innovations included individual beds for every patient, linens that were changed as often as seven times a day, and herbal medicines made from native plants, sugar, and olive oil.

Soon we were on our way to Bethlehem, where we finally reunited with our friends at Holy Family Hospital! We stopped in the NICU first, where the staff introduced us to some incredibly brave mothers and fathers, and to a few of Bethlehem’s newest (and tiniest!) citizens.

Preemie in Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

We made stops by the lab, pharmacy, and social worker’s office, all of which are operated by women. And we visited the Well Baby Nursery, where we met this little one, only 15 minutes old!

We visited the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, where we were honored to be able to pray for the intentions of our Foundation’s donors and friends. We prayed for those who give so generously to families in need throughout the world, particularly here in Bethlehem served by Holy Family Hospital. (If you would like to send us your petitions for our next trip to the Holy Land, please do so here.)

President of the Order of Malta's Federal Association, Margaret Melady, prays at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem's Manger Square

After an energizing day at the Hospital, our group made its way to Tantur, where the Order of Malta founded its second hospital in 110 A.D. We helped Margaret and Deacon Michael plant an olive tree in honor of the generous members of the Federal Association, who have done so much for Holy Family Hospital over the years. The olive tree now sits in Tantur’s ancient olive grove, alongside trees that date back nearly 1,000 years.

Margaret Melady and Deacon Michael Stankewicz plant an olive tree at the Monaster of St. John of Jerusalem at Tantur.

The next day was spent in Jerusalem, starting at the Mount of Olives. From there we walked into the Old City, where we prayed the Stations of the Cross amidst the hustle and bustle of the market. After touring the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we stopped at Muristan (meaning “the place of the hospital”) to visit the site of the Order of Malta’s very first hospital. Fra Gerard founded the Order here over 900 years ago, and established its core tenets: defending the faith and caring for “our lords, the sick and the poor.” The ancient hospitallers who followed in Fra Gerard’s footsteps cared for men and women of all three monotheistic faiths who call the Holy Land their spiritual home.

We spent a day following the Mobile Clinic on its path throughout the West Bank’s desert villages to the Bedouin encampment of Rashayda. At each stop the Clinic made, women lined up with their children to receive medical care. We were so grateful for the opportunity to see the profound impact the Clinic has made in the lives of these families.

Deacon Michael Stankewicz plays soccer with two young Palestinian boys in Bethlehem, West Bank

No trip to Bethlehem is ever quite long enough! We are already missing our friends at the Hospital, who so deeply inspire us in our mission to serve the families of Bethlehem. It won’t be long until we’re back to check in – we are even tentatively planning a small group pilgrimage for September!