In 2009, a group of Filipinos began to rent a hall in south Tel Aviv and named the center they established Divine Mercy. By February 2014, the Center had had to relocate three times. For the last two years, the Divine Mercy was situated in an underground bomb shelter.
In March 2014, the Catholic Church began its activities in the Our Lady Woman of Valor Pastoral Center. The building was purchased and renovated thanks to the great generosity of many organizations that help the Church in the Holy Land, to name a few: the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, the German Association of the Holy Land, the Archdiocese of Cologne, Porticus, Missio, Church in Need, Kindermissionswerk and the German Bishops’ Conference. In addition, many generous contributions were made by other associations and individuals including the Berrie Foundation and pilgrims to the Holy Land, especially pilgrims coming from Vietnam and the Vietnamese Diaspora. Finally, it should be stressed that the faithful of south Tel Aviv contributed themselves by collecting money regularly through a “Build our Own Church” fund. We are enormously grateful.
Thanks to the hard work of a devoted team consisting of a developer, a lawyer and workmen, a ruined building in south Tel Aviv was transformed into a center with a church that can seat 250 people, a roof top chapel, two apartments for the Sisters from the Philippines (Saint Paul of Chartres) and Sri Lanka (Perpetual Help) who live in the center and a meeting room.
Today, in additional to daily mass, five Sunday masses are celebrated for the thousands of Catholic migrants in the neighborhood. Many other faith activities are held in the center for migrants from the Philippines, Indian, Sri Lanka and Geez rite Catholics (from Eritrea and Ethiopia).
Of particular concern are the hundreds of children from Catholic families that are integrated into the secular Israeli, Hebrew language government schools. Local government, Hebrew language schools in south Tel Aviv have hundreds of Christians pupils. The Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel, working together with the chaplains of the Pastoral among Migrants, organizes catechism classes, summer camps and the publication of Hebrew language text books in order to educate a generation born in Israel, that speaks only Hebrew and has almost no exposure to the Church. Today, in 2014, 150 Catholic children are registered in catechism classes given at Our Lady Woman of Valor.
The Center is administered by a team under the leadership of Rev. David Neuhaus SJ, Latin Patriarchal Vicar and responsible for the Pastoral among Migrants in Israel.
There is still much to do we and we ask the intercession of Our Lady Woman of Valor that we might be granted the ability and means to work more for the migrants in Israel.