Pope Francis is encouraging Hebrew-speaking Catholics in the Holy Land to allow their lives to be "transfigured by God's presence" and thus become ever more effective instruments of dialogue and peace.

The Pope made this invitation in a note sent on his behalf by his secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to the Work of St. James, the Hebrew Catholic Vicariate of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, led by Jesuit Father David Neuhaus.

Father Neuhaus had sent Pope Francis a copy of his pastoral letter "Sixty-Years -- a Pastoral Letter," published on the occasion of the 60th anniversary since the community's founding. It was published earlier this month, on the feast of Edith Stein, Aug. 9.

Cardinal Parolin's message, dated Aug. 13, extended the Pope’s "cordial good wishes" to the vicariate.

"As you reflect on the many graces bestowed by God upon the Apostolate and Vicariate throughout these years, His Holiness prays that all of you may be renewed in your joyful witness to the Gospel, ‘not only with words, but above all by lives transfigured by God’s presence’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 259). In this way, not only will the Vicariate community be strengthened, it will also become an ever more effective instrument of dialogue and peace within broader society and a sign of Christ’s love for those most in need," the message stated.

The Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel is part of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The vicariate gathers the Hebrew-speaking Catholics who live in Israel, those belonging to the Jewish people together with those coming from the nations, including a growing number of local Christians and migrants. They are in union with Pope Francis and the Vatican while also at home in Israeli Jewish, Hebrew-speaking society.

Founded in 1955, the Association of Saint James was established as a Catholic association dedicated to developing Hebrew-speaking Catholic communities in the State of Israel. The association constitutes an autonomous vicariate within the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Today, Hebrew-speaking Catholic communities are active in the six major Israeli cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Beer Sheba, Tiberias and Nazareth. The vicariate also includes communities of Russian-speaking faithful. The priests and faithful of the Vicariate work closely with the Patriarchate's office for pastoral ministry for migrants in Israel, ensuring the pastoral and catechetical service of the large Roman Catholic migrant communities spread throughout the country.

Earlier this month, on the feast of St. Edith Stein, Father Neuhaus, released a pastoral letter on the 60th anniversary. 

He sent a copy of “Sixty Years – A Pastoral Letter” to the Holy Father. The letter can be read here.

On the Net:

Fr. Neuhaus’ pastoral letter: http://catholic.co.il/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11368:sixty-years-a-pastoral-letter&catid=28&Itemid=134&lang=en

An interview with Fr. Neuhaus from ZENIT’s archives, explaining the history of the Work of St. James: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/israel-s-hebrew-speaking-catholics

Web site of St. James Vicariate: http://catholic.co.il/index.php?lang=en