By Jordan Grantham, Catholic Outlook
For 130 years, the global Good Friday Collection has supported the Holy Land. This is your chance, in the Diocese of Parramatta, to preserve the holiest places and ancient Catholic communities. Most parishes across the Diocese of Parramatta will dedicate a collection to the Good Friday Collection.
The Franciscan Order has care for the Custody of the Holy Land, which includes many holy places and institutions. They welcome pilgrims, provide social and emergency accommodation for the local community, support schools and parishes, and run cultural projects.
The Custody of the Holy Land embraces Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and Rhodes.
The ongoing persecution of Christians across the Middle East highlights the importance of responding generously to their difficult circumstances.
The main image for the collection’s poster is a Syrian Franciscan Friar in a bombed Church in Aleppo. Fr Ibrahim Sabbagh OFM, Pastor of Aleppo, when asked whether the friary was also destroyed, answered, “We are much more concerned with people’s lives and the lives of our families.”
Last year, the people of the Diocese of Parramatta were the third most generous Australian group in the Good Friday collection, after the Archdioceses of Sydney and Melbourne.
Fr Carl Schafer OFM is the Commissary of the Holy Land for Australia, and visited the Holy Land many times, when he was General Assistant to the Secular Franciscans.
He met the Coptic Catholic Franciscans in Egypt.
The Coptic community was devastated this week by the Palm Sunday attack on St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral.
“It was wonderful to meet the Coptic Catholic Franciscans. They are very close to the people, who are very poor,” Fr Carl said.
“I was very glad to meet them.”
One of the projects supported by the collection is the Christian Media Center, which provides news and live updates across the Holy Land.
Watch the Palm Sunday procession from Jerusalem.
Holy Week and Easter Liturgies in Jerusalem can be watched live on the Christian Media Center broadcast.
The Magnificat Institute is another inspiring work of the Custody of the Holy Land. This is the only music school in the Old City district of the Jerusalem and it provides music at Masses in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.