Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Today: Remember Our Brothers And Sisters In The Holy Land

Tim Lilley

This issue of The Message arrives in most homes on Good Friday. Digital subscribers received their electronic copies on Holy Thursday. The Paschal Triduum has begun, and the Holy Land is more intensely on our collective mind than possibly (and probably) any other time of year.


During Good Friday services around the diocese, our parishes will take up a special collection – the Pontifical Good Friday Collection. Donations will support the Order of St. Francis’ “Custody of the Holy Land.” Following is information from the Commissariat of the Holy Land in the United States about its work and how this collection supports that work.


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, creating what is now known as the Custody of the Holy Land. 

Throughout the Holy Land

The Franciscan Friars preserve the holy places and make it possible for Christians to remain in the land of Jesus. 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.

Conflict in the Middle East and the Jerusalem Barrier Wall has led to a declining Christian population in the region, making the Franciscans’ work increasingly important. They help care for children, families, refugees and others in need throughout the region, and keep Christianity alive in the land made holy by the birth, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

The Franciscans are currently:

• Proving ongoing emergency funds to the people in Syria and Iraq
• Supporting 29 parishes, four homes for orphans and three academic institutions
• Operating 16 schools for more than 10,000 pre-K through grade 12 students
• Providing university scholarships
• Relocating and providing homes to Christian families
• Rehabilitating destroyed homes for Christians families
• Provided senior care facilities in Bethlehem and Nazareth
• Creating jobs for Christians in the Holy Land
• Preserving 74 sanctuaries and shrines from the life of Jesus and the prophets
• Supporting more than 100 men preparing to be priests or brothers
Assisting Syrian and Iraqi refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon by helping to pay for rent, food, heat, schooling and transportation.

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, lay Catholics and to all of good will.

Every year on Good Friday, a collection is taken up in Catholic Churches to support the work of the Franciscans working in the Holy Land.

The Pontifical Good Friday Collection is applied to these programs:

Faith, Memory & Culture – The Holy Places
Holy Land Franciscans staff and maintain the Holy places and shrines. This enables 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 builds thousands of residential units. Additionally, they build senior care facilities. Medical assistance is provided for the needy.

Educational & Scientific Activities
The Franciscans operate and support schools open to all, regardless of religion or nationality. They provide scholarships for students to prepare them to get jobs and remain in the Holy Land as part of living Catholic communities. Funds are distributed to young men studying to become Franciscan priests or brothers. Finally, Franciscan archaeologists pursue ongoing research at the Holy Places discovering historical artifacts.

Pastoral Activities
The Franciscans provide pastoral care in 29 parishes in the Holy Land offering Worship, Christian Formation, youth and family programs.

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.

Help our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land by supporting this special collection for the Franciscans – and by praying for them.