Forming new generations, promoting knowledge and research are some of the activities promoted by the Custody of the Holy Land in the field of education. The testimonies of Br. Ibrahim , Vicar, and Br. Rosario, Dean of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, will help us to understand the commitment that the Custody of the Holy Land faces and how, also thanks to the Good Friday Collection, it can support the living stones that live in this land.
Br IBRAHIM FALTAS, ofm, Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land
“The first school in the Middle East was founded in Bethlehem in 1598. Today we have 17 schools; there are more than 12,000 students, both Christian and Muslim. There are 1,200 teachers.” Our schools are located in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Akko, Haifa, Jericho, as well as in Jordan, Cyprus and Argentina. Next year we will open a new school in Cana. The school and a pastoral center will be built next to the shrine. All our parishes in the Holy Land have a school.
There are two other services that the Custody of the Holy Land offers that are directed toward improving the conditions of people’s lives and enabling them to remain in this land with a modicum of dignity: housing and jobs.
“In the Old City we have 400 houses that we offer for free to families. The Custody of the Holy Land renovates the houses at its own expense; this can cost up to $2 million. Outside the Old City of Jerusalem we have 250 apartments. We also have houses in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jaffa.”
New jobs, care of holy places. The Pro Terra Sancta Collection is also crucial in these areas.
Br ROSARIO PIERRI, ofm, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Dean “The Studium Biblicum Franciscanum was conceived in 1901 and began as a research center for archaeology, theology and exegesis. It was officially founded in the academic year 1923/1924; in fact, next year we will celebrate the centennial of the founding of our school. In 1960 it became an integral part of the Pontifical Antonianum University in Rome, and in 2001 it became a faculty of biblical sciences and archaeology. It is attended by students from all over the world. Living here in the holy land for several years brings with it a wealth of culture and formation that they can then share with their students, the priests of their dioceses and the friars of their provinces. The Studium has a fine library that now counts more than 60,000 volumes. Also connected to the school is a Museum (Terra Sancta Museum) that is very important for the very history of Christianity: it bears witness to early Christianity in Palestine.
Alongside these activities there are others. We hold conferences and organize a Biblical Theological Refresher Course which, this year, will take place from April 11 to 14. By helping the Custody of the Holy Land you also help our school!”
by: Br IBRAHIM FALTAS,