Holy Land 2000
A welcome by Fr. Labib Kobti

May 28, 2000
Your Excellency:

Two Thousand (2000) years ago our Lord, Jesus Christ that we celebrate today in the Spirit of the Holy Year, Great Jubilee 2000 have lived in our Lands. This why the Pope made his pilgrimage to our Land.
During his visit to Jordan and the Holy Land, our  Holy Father, Pope Paul II have said to our people:" The Successor of Peter is a pilgrim in this land blessed by the presence of Moses and Elijah, where Jesus himself taught and worked miracles, where the early Church bore witness in the lives of many saints and martyrs…I express the Church's immense gratitude for your witness to the supremacy of God in all things! Continue to shine forth as beacons of the evangelical love which overcomes all barriers! To the laity I say; Do not be afraid to take your proper place and responsibility in the Church! Be brave witnesses to the Gospel in your families and in society!"

The Pope met our Patriarch, Bishops, priests and talked to our leaders: Muslims, Jews and Christians, visiting even a Palestinian Refugee Camp. Many of our people here present are refugees, they lost they lands and houses under Israeli occupation. The Pope expressed the solidarity of the Church for Peace and TRUTH for the Palestino-Israeli conflict and called for JUSTICE to Palestinians. In fact, our people present here at mass are immigrants from that Holy Land. They are mainly from Palestine the country of our Lord and Jordan the country of the Prophets of the Old Testament. They are the heirs of the Old and New Testament traditions.
The Pope said: "Peace for the Palestinian people! Peace for all the peoples of the region! No one can ignore how much the Palestinian people have had to suffer in recent decades. Your torment is before the eyes of the world. And it has gone on too long.The Holy See has always recognized that the Palestinian people have the natural right to a homeland, and the right to be able to live in peace and tranquility with the other peoples of this area. In the international forum, my predecessors and I have repeatedly proclaimed that there would be no end to the sad conflict in the Holy Land without stable guarantees for the rights of all the peoples involved, on the basis of international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions and declarations."

In the spirit of the Great Jubilee 2000, when millions have been going in pilgrimage to the Holy Land to celebrate 2000 years of the Birth of our Lord, we the People of the Holy Land in San Francisco, Bay Area and North California wanted to celebrate the Great Jubilee with you, your Excellency, as our LEADER, Archbishop and representative of the word of God for us.

The AACC, I mean the Arab-American Roman Catholic Community of St. Anne’s are more than 700 families (between 2500-3000 people). The AACC are immigrants specially from Jordan, Palestine, Israel, a small group is from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Sudan . They come to St. Anne’s that your predecessors and yourself have chosen canonically with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, our home Archdiocese as a place of worship and residence for the Arab-American people and priest. I can assure you that around 80% of our People pray and is committed to their Catholic Church in every way.
Your Excellency, we are ready to hear your pastoral word, here as an echo of the teaching given by Jesus to us, as you are our  Ordinary in San Francisco and we are your people. Confirm us, so that we may incarnate our special identity to be, in every time and among all the peoples of different ethnic groups, the living memory of the historical event called Jesus Christ. Bless us, so that we may witness to the truth you represented to us in the Jubilee year: that we celebrate "The Word became flesh and set his tent among us" (Jn 1,14).

Help us here in San Francisco to live more and more our identity and our heritage. Your love and the love of Bishop Wester to our people helped us to overcome different kinds of past difficulties. I want to thank you in a special way for honoring me as pastor of the AACC in inviting me to dinner with you on this Holy Thursday, and inviting me to join the Great Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in October. I have no words to tell how much our community have been honored and loved by your Excellency. Thank you in the name of all this people coming from everywhere to celebrate with you.
Your Excellency, this our people, welcomes you and Loves you.

On their name I offer to you a Handmade Mother Pearl Cross of Jerusalem 2000 Great Jubilee, that we ask you to wear  at our mass.