Eight hundred years ago, the Roman Catholic Church entrusted the guardianship of the Holy Land and other shrines of the Christian religion to the Order of St. Francis. This work has grown to include support of schools and missions in the Holy Land, as well as care for refugees and other needy people throughout the region.
The Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C., sustains this 800-year mission of the Franciscan Friars in the Holy Land through education, fundraising, recruiting vocations, promoting pilgrimages and providing pastoral ministry locally to religious and lay Catholics and to all of good will.
On Good Friday, a pontifical collection is taken up in every parish in the United States. The proceeds from the collection go to support ministries and works, largely under the direction of the Franciscans, in the Holy Land.
The funds are used to support Catholic schools, parishes and religious education in the Holy Land. The Good Friday collection also preserves the shrines for pilgrims and provides assistance, including housing and food, for the poor and needy.
Where does the money go?
Faith, Memory & Culture – The Holy Places: The staffing and maintenance of existing Holy Places and development
of new projects 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 more than 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.
Pastoral Activities: 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. For more information about the Franciscans and the Good Friday Collection, visit www.myfranciscan.org.
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