Sister Laurie Brink, OP

Written by Sister Laurie Brink, OP

My father, a retired Navy chief, paraphrasing the Navy motto, has often joked that the Dominican vocation literature should read: “Join the Convent and see the World!” In our 150 plus years, our sisters have journeyed throughout the globe, enlivening the words of our founder, Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli: “Go wherever the work is great and difficult.”

In my ministry, I have spent considerable time in Israel/Palestine, working in archaeology and biblical studies. And it is to this part of the globe that I invite you to turn. If the heart of ministry is relationship as we profess, then you must meet my friends, the Giacamans.

Since the Middle Ages, the Giacaman family has lived in the Holy Land, struggling to remain faithful Christians. On many occasions, I and those Sisters who have traveled with me to Bethlehem have enjoyed their wonderful hospitality and marveled at their handiwork. The Giacamans are woodworkers, carving and molding olive wood into amazing works of art.

Sister Pat Davis and Associate Rose Marie Brown visit the wood factory.
Sister Pat Davis and Associate Rose Marie Brown
visit the wood factory.

Because of the devastating political situation in Israel/Palestine, pilgrims have stopped traveling to the Holy Land. Crossing into Bethlehem is a near impossibility. One of the last groups to visit the Giacamans was our Elder Sister Tour in March, 2001. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) would not let our bus pass the check point. Undaunted by potential adversity and with rosaries in hand, our faithful sister pilgrims, whose average age was 75, walked the half mile across the border. The Giacamans met us on the other side, having rounded up family and friends with vehicles to drive our Sisters to the Church of the Navitity.

In the birthplace of Jesus, still there are those whose faith is solid, whose hope is steadfast and whose Gospel witness continues to inspire.

Please read the note from Angela Giacaman and browse through the gifts her family has made. Talk to your friends and family and church and make a purchase of Bethlehem gifts. You can simply e-mail Angela and tell her what items you would like. Know that given the political situation, delivery may take several weeks. And the cost of shipping is about $15, depending on weight.

We may not feel very powerful in the face of the world’s troubles. We may wonder how our tiny efforts make a dent in the chaos. This is one small way to help one Christian family to help their workers and friends.

A Letter from Angela Giacaman

1Our family came to the Holy Land about 600 years ago. My father started this work on 1925, and we now have an olive wood factory, a mother of pearl workshop, and a souvenir shop. I work with my brothers: Issa, George, and Joseph, and nephews Jack and Elias. We used to have about 16 workers, but we had to lay off most of them and keep only six who had large families to provide for. All of this is due to the political situation in The Holy Land. For almost three years now, no tourists have been able to come to Bethlehem. Many olive wood factories are closed. We are only allowed to go out of Bethlehem with special permission from the IDF, which is not easy to get. We haven’t been outside Bethlehem for almost three years, and we spent 175 days of curfew since Easter last year. Many Christian families left the country, but we would never think of doing so, simply because it’s OUR HOME.

In our olive wood factory, we make many different of items: figures, Christmas ornaments, rosaries, nativity sets, and grottos.

Our products are

  • made out of olive wood, so you can see the nice grain in the products;
  • carved by hand, which makes them unique artistic pieces;
  • made from dry wood, so they never crack because the wood is dried for three years before using it;
  • naturally finished and waxed, so it never changes color and keeps its natural shine;
  • sanded well for a smooth touch.
Kindly consider purchasing some of our items.

Angela Giacaman


or write to
Giacaman Brothers
c/o Joseph Hasboun
P. O. Box 14673
91145 Jerusalem

or fax 011-970-2-274-2835