Christianity is struggling to survive in the land where it originated. Christians have been forgotten in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Catholic Church is fighting to keep Christianity in the Holy Land a living faith and not a relic.
Franciscan priests and brothers have been caring for the holy sites for more than seven hundred years dating back to the meeting of St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan Malek-el-Kamel in the early 13th Century. In 1342, Pope Clement VI issued a pontifical mandate authorizing the Franciscans as custodians.
Today, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land is doing much more than looking after the holy places, although that is a significant part of their work. They operate schools with more than 10,000 students in grades pre-K through 12.
They have constructed more than one thousand residential units where Jesus walked and preached in Bethlehem, Bethpage and Nazareth and 80 homes have been rehabilitated for Christian families in the Old City of Jerusalem. Friars provide pastoral care in 29 parishes and maintain guest houses and pilgrimages for visitors from throughout the world.
Their pro-active efforts to maintain a dynamic Christian presence in the Holy Land has resulted in 120 young men preparing to become Franciscan priests and brothers. Franciscan archaeologists are seeking to discover new information about the beginnings of the Christian faith in places like Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalen.
On Good Friday a collection will be taken up in every Catholic Church to fund the works of the Franciscans in the Holy Land. We cannot allow the Faith to be snuffed out in the Holy Land. We cannot allow the holy places to fall into disrepair.
Please assist in this most important mission. I ask you to give generously to the Holy Land Collection on Good Friday or donate online at http://www.myfranciscan.org/our-mission/the-good-friday-collection/
Keep Christianity in the Holy Land a living faith and not a relic.
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