800 years ago, the Roman Catholic Church entrusted the guardianship of the Holy Land and other shrines of the Christian religion to the Order of St. Francis, creating what is now known as the Custody of the Holy Land.
Throughout the Holy Land
The Franciscan Friars’ work in the Holy Land is vital. As Pope Francis says, “We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians.” We preserve the holy places and make it possible for Christians to remain in the land of Jesus.
In addition, this work has grown to include support of schools and missions in the Holy Land, as well as care for refugees and other needy people throughout the region. Conflict in the Middle East and the Jerusalem Barrier Wall has led to a declining Christian population in the region, making our work increasingly important. The ability of families in many of these regions to stay in their home countries is increasingly being threatened by the lack of employment and education opportunities. We help care for children, families, refugees and others in need throughout the region, and keep Christianity alive in the land made holy by the birth, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
We are currently:
• Providing ongoing emergency funds
• Supporting 29 parishes, 4 homes for orphans and 3 academic institutions
• Operating 16 schools for more than 10,000 pre-K through grade 12 students
• Providing university scholarships
• Relocating and providing homes to Christian families
• Rehabilitating destroyed homes for Christians families
• Provided senior care facilities in Bethlehem and Nazareth
• Creating jobs for Christians in the Holy Land
• Preserving 74 sanctuaries and shrines from the life of Jesus and the prophets
• Supporting more than 100 men preparing to be priests or brothers
• Assisting Syrian and Iraqi refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon by helping to pay for rent, food, heat, schooling and transportation.
Here in America
The Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C. sustains this 800-year mission of the Franciscan Friars in the Holy Land through education, fundraising, recruiting vocations, promoting pilgrimages and providing pastoral ministry locally to religious, lay Catholics and to all of good will.
The Franciscan Monastery is home to a thriving Franciscan community; self sustaining and capable of fulfilling its mission on behalf of the Holy Land, its Friars and the Church Universal.