Helping Christians in the Holy Land
The Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land have the unique responsibility of caring for the Holy Places as well as caring for the living stones of the Holy Land. The living stones are the Christians who live in the Holy Land. It is important that we care for the Christians living in the Holy Land in order to maintain a Christian presence in a land that is filled with a majority Jewish and Islamic population.
The Good Friday Collection is applied to these programs below.
Faith, Memory & Culture – The Holy Places
For 800 years the Holy See has entrusted to the Franciscans the care of the Holy Places for the benefit of the Christians who live there and all who come as pilgrims from around the world. The staffing and maintenance of existing Holy Places and development of new projects (e.g. Nain and Magdala) enable those who live in the Holy Land and those who visit to deepen their faith and their spiritual and cultural connection to Salvation history.
Social & Charitable Activities
In order to assist Christians to remain in the Holy Land, including the poor and young couples, the 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.
To find out more about the works of the Custody of the Holy Land visit: www.custodia.org