The annual worldwide Pontifical Good Friday Collection that supports Christians living in the Holy Land will be taken up in parishes of the Diocese of Trenton this year on April 7.

“It is vital 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 Islamic and Jewish population,” Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land website explains. “In these challenging times in the Middle East, Christians are experiencing unique hardships. We have an opportunity to help them through the Pontifical Good Friday Collection.”

Entrusted by the Church more than 800 years ago, the Holy Land Friars of the Order of St. Francis were tasked with preserving the holy places and helping Christians to maintain a presence in the Holy Land – a contingent that has dwindled to less than 2% of the total population.

The Commissariat of Friars Minor, home to priests of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, helps bridge the divide between the Holy Land and Christians throughout the world; Commissariat offices in Washington, D.C., coordinate the vital financial support of the Franciscans and their ministries.

Special challenges faced by Christians in the region include political, religious and military complexities. The pandemic also posed a financial strain, as most Christians depend on pilgrimages for work.

The annual collection helps the 250 Holy Land Franciscans to staff and maintain holy places and shrines in 11 countries, allowing both those who live there and pilgrims to deepen their faith and connection to salvation history.

Funds from last year’s Pontifical Good Friday Collection:

• Supported 23 parishes and three academic institutions

• Provided a home in Bethlehem for 30 children from homes facing domestic violence

• Offered more than 500 scholarships for university education

• Helped keep schools open for over 10,000 pre-K through grade 12 students

• Supported 53 friars preparing for the priesthood - Restored and maintained 640 houses/apartments for Christian families

• Provided assistance to more than 9000 families through weekly food baskets

• Employed more than 1,000 workers in the Holy Land

• Preserved 80 shrines from the life of Jesus, the Apostles and the prophets

• Construction of a Catholic School in Cana of Galilee, to give a Christian education to the youth of the city

• Began the work of restoration of the floor at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, the holiest place on Earth and completed the restoration of the Basilica of the Nativity, done for the 1st time in centuries.

“Thank you for supporting the Pontifical Good Friday Collection, as encouraged by Pope Francis,” the Franciscans stated in a letter to donors. “Through the Pontifical Good Friday Collection, you join with Catholics around the world to stand in solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land, and you become an instrument of peace in a troubled land.”

By EmmaLee Italia | Contributing Editor