On the 24th of April 2013, Catholic Bishops of Jerusalem organised a farewell gathering in the courtyard of Notre Dame Centre to honour Mrs. Claudette Habesch for her 26 years of loyal and dedicated service to Caritas Jerusalem as Secretary General.
His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah the former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, auxiliary bishops, representatives and members of different churches, consulates, charities and Christian organisations in Jerusalem, more than 200 people, gathered to say goodbye to Mrs. Habesch. The Patriarch thanked Claudette for her “renowned and successful work” and bestowed on her the “Palm of Jerusalem” in recognition of her dedicated service.
Fr. Raed Abusahliah, the incoming Director of Caritas Jerusalem said, “It is said, retirement may be an ending, a closing, but it is also a new beginning; but we know that you will always remain young, generous and ready to serve because it is not only blood that flows in your veins, but also Caritas flows in your veins! Therefore, we will nominate you as Caritas ambassador for life.”
In 1987 the Latin Patriarchate called upon Mrs. Claudette Habesch asking her to take the post of Secretary General of Caritas Jerusalem. What was an organisation with one project of micro-credit 27 years ago, Caritas Jerusalem has grown to one that serves the Occupied Palestinian Territories, from the Gaza Strip in the south, all the way to Jenin in the north, with Jerusalem at its heart.
Three health centres, one counseling centre for drug abuse, a day-care centre for the elderly in Ramallah, health education and awareness programmes in several localities, a strong micro-credit programme, education and youth, and the social support programme are but just a few of the projects that Mrs Habesch founded, directed and developed. From a one part-time employee, Caritas Jerusalem has grown to over fifty full time employees.
Mrs. Habesch was honoured and humbled by the celebration. After thanking the Church for the confidence in her, she said “Charity begins at home. I am deeply indebted to my parents for teaching me the values of the Catholic Church.”