November 2010

Social projects

Helping those in need in the Holy Land

Providing emergency relief, alleviating social hardships, supporting minorities, caring for the elderly, providing support in cases of illness, assisting with housing needs, resolving conflicts in the Holy Places in the Holy Land…

The Holy Land is plagued with many conflicts, and about the only reasons it ever makes headlines are the ongoing violence, the religious extremism there, and the walls that have been built within the population and in the hearts of people.

As custodians of the Holy Places in this troubled heart of the world, the Franciscans want to demonstrate brotherly love for their neighbors. Through their constructive commitment, they want to be at the service of others, especially the weakest (children, the sick and handicapped, minorities), in times of need and in their everyday lives.

“The Holy Land is truly a frontier land. It is a land of encounters and clashes, a land where the riches of the East and the West mesh together into a very beautiful symphony, but sometimes they lead to a scream, a horrible cry of pain… We strive with great humility and without presumption to simply remain and persevere here. Day after day, we do whatever we can.”

Education

Running schools, educating children, organizing extracurricular activities, supporting Christian families in the Holy Land…

The Franciscans in the Holy Land understood very early on that the Holy Sites would have very little importance without “living stones,” that is, local Christian communities. For that reason, they have always been very devoted to pastoral care and to the parishes in their care, which have come to occupy a central position in the social life of Christians, which centers on interaction, mutual assistance, and solidarity.

As early as the mid-sixteenth century, the Franciscans founded the very first schools in the Holy Land, which were open the schools to everyone: Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Jews, based on the persuasion that a school is not only a place that transmits knowledge, but also a “training ground for cooperation,” where everyone learns to respect, to value, and to love others. Schools run by Franciscans provide access to a very good education and transmit Christian values – two characteristics that are highly valued even by non-Christian parents.

Today, the Custody of the Holy Land runs numerous schools, with over 10,000 students in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Lebanon, and Cyprus- the Holy Land. The Christian schools are financed through tuition, but it is important to the Franciscans of the Holy Land not to deprive anyone of an education for financial reasons, so in many cases tuition is partially or completely waived. The financial needs thus created need to be met through donations.

The Franciscans of the Holy Land also provide scholarships to support Christians wishing to pursue a higher education.  Scholarships are given to a select group of qualified young people who wish to study at a Middle Eastern university. This is also a way to encourage these young people to remain in the region to work after completing their studies.

The Christian schools and parishes of the Custody of the Holy Land also organize extracurricular activities so as to provide young people the opportunity to use their free time constructively. This is an essential way to fight neglect, drug addiction, and violence. Concerts and exhibitions are constantly organized to promote culture.

It is possible to achieve education and dialogue through music, as the “Magnificat Institute” in the Holy City of Jerusalem proves. This music school in the Old City of Jerusalem was founded in 1995 and provides musical training to many children and young people, regardless of their origin or religious background.

“Education is fundamental where Christians are a minority. Parishes and schools are places where Christian values can be transmitted. If there is no education, Christians will disappear, not in numbers, but in the sense that they will no longer have anything to say.”

Development

Providing vocational training, promoting artisanship and small businesses, providing employment, hiring people from local companies…

Economically, these last few years have been very difficult for many Christians in the Holy Land. Because of the lack of economic prospects as a result of the conflict, an increased number of them emigrate to other countries.

It is important for the places where Christianity began to be filled with life by the local church. Furthermore, Christians, although a minority, have an important duty in the community life of the Holy Land, with all of its challenges. They are to be present and to bear witness to Christian hope, love for neighbors, and forgiveness.

For this reason, the Franciscans of the Holy land make efforts to support initiatives that help build an economic future for Christians in the Holy Land. Furthermore, the Custody of the Holy Land plays an important role as an employer and tries as much as possible to think of local Christian companies when making hiring decisions.

“…it is not true that the Middle East conflict is the cause of worldwide political tensions… On the contrary, the conflict in the Middle East is the result of many worldwide tensions on many levels that have all taken a toll on the land.”

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Help support the Holy Places. Maintain the Christian Community in the Holy Land:

https://www.proterrasancta.org/en/help/

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