PORTLAND — During Holy Week, the Gospel readings come to life in a special way as we gather to celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, reminding us of the special connection we have to the land where this great story unfolded.

On Good Friday, April 7, all Maine churches will hold a special collection for the Church in the Holy Land, offering the opportunity to support the land where Jesus walked.

“This collection supports the care and preservation of the Church in the Holy Land, the lands of the Bible, the places which Jesus called home, where he lived and died, preached and gathered his Church. It is not only, however, the buildings that are of concern. It is also the people of these lands. The Christian peoples of these lands are challenged daily. This collection helps them with education, with employment, with those services which make a community livable, particularly health care,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “A donation is a direct way to make a difference in the lives of those caught up in war, violence, and instability in the region.”

Last year’s collection proceeds from churches around the world assisted a variety of projects and people:

  • supported 23 parishes, three academic institutions, and 500 scholarships for university education;
  • helped schools for over 10,000 pre-kindergarteners through twelfth graders remain open;
  • provided a home in Bethlehem for 30 children from home facing domestic violence;
  • restored and maintained 640 homes for Christian families;
  • provided food baskets to more than 9,000 families;
  • preserved 80 shrines from the life of Jesus, the Apostles, and the prophets;
  • employed more than 1,000 workers in the Holy Land; and
  • supported 53 friars preparing for priesthood.

Fittingly, the collection will occur on Good Friday, when the faithful gather for a special liturgy focusing on the cross to commemorate the saving Passion, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. To learn more about what the Good Friday collection benefits, visit www.myfranciscan.org/good-friday.

Here in Maine, the Eastern Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem supports the work of the Latin patriarch, the Catholic archbishop responsible for Roman Catholics living in Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. That work includes providing funding for schools in the Holy Land, which are currently educating thousands of students, both Christian and Muslim. If you are unable to attend a Good Friday service but would like to contribute or if you would like to learn more about the Equestrian Order, visit www.eohsjeastern.org/donate.