NCCW sets up pen pal program between US Catholic and Holy Land schools

The National Council of Catholic Women has recently established a pen pal program between U.S. schools and students in the Holy Land, in a bid to show its solidarity with the Catholics in the Middle East.

(REUTERS/Staff)School kids in a school in Connecticut are in a pen pal program with kids in Bethlehem.

Dubbed the Holy Land Project, the participants in the letter exchange program initially come from Saint Lawrence School in West Haven, Connecticut, and Terra Sancta College in Bethlehem. It involved grade school students, who have already expressed excitement about exchanging letters with kids from another culture.

"We determined that a very effective way to assure them that we know and care about them and pray for them is to begin a program with our USA Catholic schools and their Franciscan schools in the Holy Land," Maribeth Stewart, the president of NCCW, said in a press release. She also mentioned that the children were excited about telling their friends and family about their experiences with their pen pals, which have been helpful in praying for those in Jerusalem.

The children's first letter exchanges included drawings and other messages that touched on how similar the children were in many ways despite the cultural differences and the distance. The kids talked about religion, their hobbies, sports and family.

The NCCW hatched the program after receiving requests from women living in the Holy Land, who face difficulty and discrimination. As women, their rights were apparently limited in Bethlehem, and they could not even travel to nearby places in Jerusalem so easily.

The organization hopes to expand the program to other Catholic schools.

In 1920, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops founded the council after recognizing the work of women during the First World War. The group has always aimed to strengthen and unite Catholic women in every part of the world.

"The Women's Council will not take the place of any existing Catholic society. Its aim is to supply what we now lack and to keep and to aid every existing Catholic women's organization," Ruth O'Halloran wrote in the book "The First 75 Years."