The mission of the Franciscan friars does not just involve the churches and sanctuaries: even the living stones of the land of the fifth gospel receive special attention, which is translated into support for Christian families and appropriate accommodation. Restructuring work will also offer job opportunities to young people, so they are not forced to emigrate or become victims of fear or anxiety.
Fr. RAMZI SIDAWI, ofm
Treasurer of the Custody of the Holy Land
"One of the main problems that a human being has to face is finding a house to live in. If a man does not find a home to live, it will be very difficult for him to find a job. Most of the houses we own are located within the Old City, because of the history of Jerusalem. During the last decades, however, the Custody has carried out different housing projects in different locations, including Beit Hanina and Beit Fage. We also have houses in Bethlehem and in Nazareth, and we are going to build new ones even in Jaffa. In Jerusalem, we support about 400 families in the Old City, 130 houses outside the Old City and 50 houses in Bethlehem.”
Following in the footsteps of their founder St. Francis of Assisi, the Custody of the Holy Land offers a home (without any distinction) to young families, to the poor, to the needy and to the elderly.
“After six years of involvement in this project, we all feel like one big family.”
"Not having a house could be a serious problem, because the rent is very high and my husband is sick and cannot afford it. So, a big problem has been solved. We thank the Franciscans and every day I thank God and the friars who welcomed us and offered a comfortable apartment, which is fit for my husband's health needs."
Christian families in the Holy Land are the main recipients of a series of activities and events of the Franciscans. A good part of the "Good Friday collection" is used to renovate existing homes that have deteriorated over time.
"I have lived here in this house for about 35 years. I got married and then I came here. We had an electrical problem: the electrical wires were exposed, there was water everywhere and the walls were heavily damaged, so we had to use buckets if we needed water. I am grateful to God and to the Franciscan friars who treat us well and have helped us in every possible way."
"I have lived here for 56 years, I gave birth and raised all my children in this place. This is an addition: the bathroom and kitchen used to be outside. But when the Franciscans came to fix the house, they built a kitchen and a bathroom inside for me! I will be grateful to them forever."
The Franciscan initiatives in the housing sector are not limited to a single city. In Bethlehem, the Custody launched the so-called 'Baby Jesus' and 'St. Catherine' projects, thanks to the generous funding from benefactors and donors from around the world.
The Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land is a simple and effective way to contribute.