Kairos Palestine and the Struggles of Bethlehem University in Occupied Palestine

On Oct 19th, 2012, a special awareness-raising event, hosted by Friends of Bethelehem University  in Ireland, (www.fbui.ie), will take place at UCD’s Global Irish Institute. The aim of this gathering is to explore afresh the powerful peace propositions of the famous Kairos Palestine document, (2009) and hear the views of distinguished speakers from Bethlehem University, a venerable  and courageous  college that is struggling as an isolated academic bastion in a desperately troubled region.

The Kairos Palestine document was co-authored by Bethlehem University’s Dean of Arts,  Professor Fr. Jamal Khader who will address  the meeting, along with Br. Peter Bray,  Vice Chancellor  of Bethlehem University. The  Kairos Palestine document declares that the military occupation of Palestine is a sin against God and humanity and it cries out to the international community to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades.

The speakers will describe the struggles experienced by Palestinian students attempting to attain third level education in a hostile environment and a short film will be included as background to the  presentation. A Q&A session after the talks will allow the Irish audience to discuss ways in which we may show solidarity  with  our academic counterparts under siege.

The Irish public has demonstrated a tremendous curiosity and empathy for Palestine and the  text  of the Kairos Palestine document  presents a powerful statement  from which to conceive a broader awareness of and support for students struggling to transcend their battle-scarred, native origins.  Perhaps because of our own difficult history of centuries of occupation including formal educational privations, we Irish understand that education is both a  basic  birthright and the fundament  by which people can  develop intellectually and prosper.

If you wish to attend Kairos Palestine and the Struggles of Bethlehem University on Friday, Oct 19th, 2012, UCD, from 5pm-7pm, please email BethUniKP@gmail.com

Media contact:

Dearbhla Keating; 087-415-7597; dkeatingorama@gmail.com

Speakers at this Event

Brother Peter Bray, FSC, EdD

Brother Peter Bray, FSC, EdD is the 8th Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, the first university established in Palestinian and the only Catholic university in the Holy Land.

Brother Peter assumed leadership of Bethlehem University in February 2009 and brings more than 30 years of Catholic education experience as a teacher, consultant, administrator, and expert in leadership and educational systems. Brother Peter complements his practical experience with a doctorate in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego with a focus on leadership approaches that facilitate change in educational institutions.

During his most recent appointment prior to Bethlehem, Brother Peter was the Director and CEO of the Wellington Catholic Education Center in New Zealand where he led the creation of a master’s level educational partnership with the Australian Catholic University and the utilization of online delivery for the Center’s educational programs.

Brother Peter’s work as a teacher and education consultant has brought him around the world, to Australia, the United States, Turkey, England, Ireland and the Philippines. He has facilitated an international workshop on leadership in religious life and presented at a conference for the Australian William Glasser Institute.

Brother Peter has served as a member of the Wellington Archdiocesan Synod organizing committee and as a member of the Board of Trustees for De La Salle College, Auckland in his native New Zealand. He was also a member of the Australian Council for Educational Administration and was elected to the Provincial Council of the De La Salle Brothers in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Besides his doctoral work, Brother Peter earned a master’s in Educational Administration as well as diplomas in Adult Education and Religious Studies. His publications include materials on “Lasallian spirituality”, “Collaborative leadership in the new millennium” and “The evolution of a quality school: A case study of leadership”.

Brother Peter’s dedication to educational leadership is a commitment to realizing people’s full potential. “In being involved in education,” Brother Peter proclaims, “I see myself called to work in whatever way I can against anything that is preventing us from living a full life.”

The challenges and opportunities in education around the globe are certainly great – and in Bethlehem likewise. A land steeped in spirituality and made holy by the very birth and life of Jesus Christ, it is all too often ravaged by injustice, war, violence and political instability.

For the students, faculty, and alumni of Bethlehem University in the Holy Land entrusted to Brother Peter, there is great hope in knowing that God is faithful and leads us forward. It is a hope expressed by Mr. Fuad Kattan, Chair of the Board of Trustees, during Brother Peter’s inauguration as Vice Chancellor:

“The notion of leaving your country for a new life in Bethlehem, in unfamiliar surroundings and a land of ongoing dispute, must have been a little scary.  However, the Board of Trustees and I are confident that you will take this jewel of an institution forward to greater heights. We look forward to your leadership to guide Bethlehem University through the challenges and opportunities that will not only shape its future but also preserve and build upon its traditions.”

Fr. Jamal

Fr. Jamal was born in the Christian Palestinian village of Zababdeh in the northern part of the West Bank. He has a Doctorate in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he completed his thesis on the official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

He is a member of the Theological Reflection Committee of the Latin Patriarchate and of the Committee of Dialogue with Jews. Fr. Jamal teaches at theLatin Seminary in Beit Jala, Bethlehem University, the Emmaus Center in Beit Sahour, and Mar Elias College in Ibillin.

He also teaches Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Strategies for the master’s in International Cooperation and Development (MICAD) program. Fr. Jamal is the Chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies and the Dean of Arts at Bethlehem University.