The Salesian Oratory at Bethlehem is as old as the presence of the Salesians itself 1891. Don Bosco wanted his oratory to be a second home to every boy that he encountered. The oratory in his description would be a place of ‘prayer’, ‘home to the destitute’ and a ‘joyful ambient’ to nurture the young people. The history of the oratory can be traced in the mission and work of Fr. Antonio Belloni (1815 – 1902), a diocesan priest from Italy, a professor at the major seminary at Betjala. His initiatives saw a remarkable change in the society at Bethlehem. He built an orphanage in 1863, and eventually his work spread in various other places in the Holy Land (especially at Betjemal and at Nazareth). Being a contemporary of Don Bosco he had the opportunity to visit him at Genova in 1871. Eventually he became a Salesian and thus all his ventures adopted the Salesian spirit.
The Salesian oratory had been known for its unique preventive system and the Salesians were known to be always with the young, training them and guiding their choices of life. The Salesian oratory at Bethlehem has encountered innumerable youth of various epoch of Palestine. Many of the oratorians can attest to the fact that the oratory shaped their lives to a great extent and rendered them ‘good’ and ‘honest citizens’. The oratory continues to remain a beacon to the needy youth of Bethlehem, widening the horizon of every youth that it encounters and insistently radiates ‘joy’ in a society that had harsh political upheavals in the past decades.
As the world knows better, the horizons of Palestine became reduced in the political conflicts over the years. Bethlehem is situated on the hot bed of this upheaval. Surrounded by wall and control it demonstrates nothing but a spacious prison, where most of the youth have not seen their relatives on the other side of the wall for several years. Being a closed and oppressed society Bethlehem needs different forums for education and entertainment. Our oratory amply offers both.
The oratory functions in various sectors and groups of both boys and girls: it contains Scout, senior oratorians, middle aged oratorians, Don Rua group for senior animators, Don Bosco youth group, Dominic Savio adolescent group, and finally Dominic Savio Junior group. The oratory functions throughout the week from Monday to Saturday in the evenings. On Sunday the oratorians frequent the holy Mass at 8.30 am in our Church. It is to be noted that that the oratory has about 30% of Muslim kids
• Regular Coaching in football, basketball, volleyball and table tennis.
• Seminars offered on various topics: Education, character building, psychological development, personality development etc
• Visiting the old-aged homes with members of the oratory.
• Various spiritual animations during the year–Retreat, recollection, visiting various churches in Palestine.
• Education on social media and communications.
• Prayer groups for faith formation
• Psychological services to those in need.
• Celebrations on various Religious festivities (especially Christmas)
• Music march by our Scout in Bethlehem, and scout camp in summer.
• At the end of the academic year a month long SUMMER CAMP is conducted.