Parishes around the world this week will be taking up the traditional annual Good Friday Collection for the Church in the Holy Land.The proceeds from the Good Friday Collection go to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The Franciscans have been caring for the holy sites there since 1209. They also assist the poor, run schools, provide scholarships, and conduct pastoral ministries to keep Christianity alive in the land where it originated.
In his appeal to Catholics to donate generously this Good Friday, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, said “The Collection is still today the principal source which sustains the life and works of the region’s Christians.”
Cardinal Sandri described the current situation in the region, particularly the conflict in Syria, tensions in Egypt and between Israel and Palestine as “truly precarious.”
“Every day the Christians in various regions of the Middle East ask themselves whether they should remain or emigrate,” he noted. “They live in danger and often suffer violence only for the fact of professing the faith common to them and us.” The Collection helps Christians of many different denominations remain in the region as living witnesses to Christ.
A quick look at these Franciscan websites gives an idea about the kinds of services the Good Friday Collection helps provide: www.myfranciscan.org or www.custodia.org.
Social & Charitable Activities
In order to assist Christians to remain in the Holy Land, including the poor and young couples, the Franciscan Custody has built more than a thousand residential units in multiple locations – Bethlehem, Bethphage and Nazareth. In the Old City of Jerusalem about 80 homes have been rehabilitated for Christian families. Senior Care facilities have been built in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Medical assistance is provided for the needy.
Educational & Scientific Activities
To help over 10,000 pre-K through grade 12 students, the Franciscans operate and support schools open to all, regardless of religion or nationality. Muslim and Christian students, teachers and families get to know each other and live in harmony. University scholarships for 360 students prepare them to get jobs and remain in the Holy Land as part of living Catholic communities. Some 120 young men are preparing to be priests or brothers. Still others are pursuing advanced degrees in Biblical Studies and Archaeology and Theology. Franciscan archaeologists pursue ongoing research at the Holy Places including the new projects at Magdala, the home of St. Mary Magdalene.
The Franciscans provide pastoral care in 29 parishes in the Holy Land offering Worship, Christian Formation, youth and family programs and new parish centers in Jericho and Cana.
Liturgical, Ecumenical and Communications Programs
The Franciscan Media Center tells the story of the Holy Land through multimedia distributed throughout the world in more than seven languages. The friars organize Liturgical Celebrations for the local Christians and Pilgrims and share with other Christian communities in the Holy Land in ongoing Ecumenical cooperation.
By: Vatican Radio