Bethlehem Hospital Foundation Offering Online Interactive Advent Calendar

'Birthplace of Hope' Is Only 500 Yards From Where Jesus Was Born

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ATLANTA, Georgia, NOV. 29, 2012 (Zenit.org).- This Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent an agency that supports the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem will launch an interactive calendar online that visitors can use throughout the season as they prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The Holy Family Hospital, only 500 yards from the traditionally recognized birthplace of Jesus, is dedicated to the lives of expectant mothers and their babies. It is known throughout the West Bank Region as the "Birthplace of Hope."

Visit the calendar beginning Sunday for:

Video features that will introduce visitors to the hospital, its staff, its mobile medical outreach and the families that turn to the facility for medical care.

Reflections that will include Catholic clergy, religious, writers and bloggers.

Photos and graphics that will drive home the message of the hospital's status as the West Bank’s true birthplace of hope for families in one of the world’s most impoverished, war-torn areas.

New calendar content will be unlocked daily throughout Advent.

“Advent is a time of prayer, reflection, anticipation and preparation,” said Holy Family Hospital Foundation Executive Director Colleen Marotta. “We hope visitors will use the calendar as they prepare for Christmas. In the process, they will learn about the important work of the hospital. Doctors and staff save the lives of thousands of mothers and babies annually. And they provide the highest-quality medical care without regard to race, religion or ability to pay.

“So many families have come to know Holy Family Hospital as the birthplace of hope because they know that no one ever arrives at its doors to hear, ‘there is no room.’”

History

The French Daughters of Charity opened Holy Family Hospital in 1885 as an 80-bed general hospital and orphanage. The sisters ran the hospital for a century, but were forced to close it in 1985 due to economic and socio-political reasons.

Pope John Paul II approached the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and requested that it take over administration and operation of the hospital. Under the Order’s leadership, Holy Family Hospital reopened as a maternity/gynecological hospital in 1990. Since then, more than 55,000 babies have been born, and many of them have been saved in the only neonatal intensive care unit in the entire West Bank Region.

Holy Family Hospital also operates a mobile outreach clinic that provides medical care to families and women living, in many cases, without access to running water or sanitary services. At the turn of the century, Blessed Pope John Paul II named Holy Family Hospital one of the top 100 priorities for the Roman Catholic Church in the new millennium.

The hospital recruits and trains native-born medical professionals, and has trained more than 90 midwives who work in other hospitals throughout the West Bank. It also provides steady employment and a fair wage for its 150 employees -- many of whom are the sole support of large, extended families.

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On the Net:

Holy Family Hospital Foundation: http://birthplaceofhope.org