How we are Helping

Restoring and Maintaining Holy Sites

At Ain Karem, the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth, whom Mary visited to announce she was with child, and where John the Baptist was born, Canadian monies have helped to accomplish several major projects. Repairs were made to the roof of the church and the Crusader Room, and archaeological digs were undertaken.  Aside from the continual need to maintain the building and the site, there was also a need to improve the accessibility to pilgrims and tourists and to promote the religious and historical significance of the site.

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The Garden of Gethsemane, at the base of the Mount of Olives, where Jesus spent the night in prayer before being arrested, was another location that received our help.  In constructing a tunnel from the Basilica of the Agony to the garden below, in order to facilitate pilgrims, numerous important archaeological sites were discovered.  

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Holy Sites and Pilgrim Centres

The Custody of the Holy Land not only sees to the constant upkeep of holy sites, but also makes these sites accessible to pilgrims and tourists.  Often this means providing means for access to the sites, facilities to receive pilgrims, and sometimes even accommodation for pilgrims desiring to spend time at locations.

 

At the Shepherds’ Field outside of Bethlehem, we supported the Custody’s project to build parking and pedestrian routes to the site.

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Similarly, at Mount Tabor, a much visited location where Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John, the Custody needed to regulate visits by building a parking lot, providing a shelter, and installing electricity and lighting.

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In Jerusalem, along the Via Crucis, at the Seventh Station of the Cross where Jesus falls for the second time, we were able to help the Franciscans break through a wall to enlarge a meeting room and build a centre of prayer for pilgrims.

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Also in Jerusalem, at Maria Bambina, in a former orphanage belonging to the Franciscans but now administered by the Sisters of Saint Elizabeth, renovations have been made to accommodate pilgrims by creating an independent space with independent dormitories, kitchen, dining room and living room.

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And, at Capernaum, where Jesus often preached in the synagogue and worked many miracles, we supported the Franciscans who turned a part of their friary into an independent guest house with dormitories, kitchen, dining room and a living room to accommodate groups of young people and pilgrims.

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Inner City Housing

Because the Franciscans have been in Jerusalem since the 13th Century, and have been entrusted with the care of Latin Christians, they have acquired for the good of the Church a certain amount of land and buildings in the very centre of Old Jerusalem.  Palestinians can seldom afford housing in the city centre and are forced to leave; so, the friars frequently renovate old buildings and provide housing at a minimal or no cost.  Canadian generosity and solidarity with the poor of the Holy Land has helped provide a solution for those in distress.

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Cultural and Historical Undertakings

The memory of thousands of years of various civilizations in the Holy Land and of a Christian presence has been entrusted to the Franciscans to preserve.  All of this – in the form of artifacts, objets d’art, documents, the unravelling of archaeological digs, and so on – make up the culture, history and present identity of the Christian people who live there, and they also elaborate the story of Christianity’s expansion.  The Franciscans, with the help of our Canadian support, have reworked the former Saint Saviour Museum and the Museum of the Flagellation, and consolidated them into the larger Terra Santa Museum.  

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Communication

The Christian Media Center, or CMC, provides daily news of the Holy Land, as well as documentary videos, liturgical celebrations, and numerous videos of interest.  The Center makes all this known in eight languages which are used by many TV stations throughout the world, including Canada’s own Salt and Light.  The Custody, with our help, has supported this very important work. 

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Schools and Education

The Franciscan Custody owns and operates fourteen elementary and high schools throughout the Holy Land which welcome disadvantaged Christian and Muslim students. These schools require regular maintenance and academic equipment, and occasionally structural upkeep.  In the past years, money collected here in Canada has been directed to the elementary school in Jaffa to reinforce concrete pillars and the interior courtyard after years of wear and tear and corrosion.  The Terra Santa Highschool in Jerusalem also was helped to equip itself with more functional educational services, and to restore playgrounds and build a multifunctional sports centre.

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Franciscan Formation

Each year a portion of the money collected is used to defray the living costs and the tuition of young men at various stages of Franciscan formation.  The advanced students, studying philosophy and theology, live at Saint Saviour friary, located in the centre of Jerusalem.  In addition to their academic formation, this affords them many practical experiences for their commitment to the Church and people of the Holy Land, such as: parish pastoral care, work with pilgrims, outreach to the poor, involvement in Catholic schools, and an appreciation of the culture and history of Middle Eastern Christians.  

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Parishes and Development of Christian Communities

At Cana, where Jesus worked his first miracle, the Custody of the Holy Land has undertaken a project to unite the Chapel of St. Bartholomew with a parish centre and a high school and a nearby commercial centre.

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Contact

Commissariat of the Holy Land in Canada
96 Empress Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario  K1R 7G3

The Offices of the Commissariat are open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on statutory holidays.

PHONE: (613) 737-6972
WRITE US: terresainte@bellnet.ca

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