The Order – Activities
The Order is represented in almost every country in the world where there is both a significant Catholic community and appropriate conditions for activities that will allow it to achieve its objectives. Together and individually, each Lieutenancy, Section and Delegation draws up a yearly program of meetings and events aimed at strengthening the spiritual growth of the Members as well as organizing and contributing to events aimed at raising awareness of the Order’s role and activities in their local Catholic communities.
Funds donated for the Holy Land are administered by the Lieutenancies in accordance with the administrative and fiscal legislation of their country of operation, and copies of the accounts maintained by each Lieutenancy are forwarded to the Grand Magisterium. These accounts include the records of the amount of donations, the beneficiaries and the purpose for which they are allocated. Typically, a Lieutenancy will forward a proportion of donated funds to the Grand Magisterium as a contribution to its support of larger projects, while using the remainder for the direct support of smaller projects identified and chosen by its Council.
The especially difficult times following the second Intifada, (which put a virtual stop to work and economic activity in a very large part of the Holy Land) caused many Palestinian Christians to lose their jobs, and prompted the Latin Patriarchate, the Apostolic Nunciature and the other Catholic institutions to engage in the distribution of social and humanitarian aid in an operation to provide the families most in need with direct financial support. However, the Order does not generally distribute charity in the form of direct subsidies– which some might simply view as “handouts”. The Order’s policy has been, and still is, to use its funding stream in such a way as to help the Christians in the Holy Land achieve educational and professional standards that will enable them to play an active and productive part in the society of their own country, at a level that will give them equality with people of other faiths.
From the latter half of the 20th century, the flow of middle-class Christian families leaving the Holy Land to seek a more secure future abroad has become a real exodus. Today, the proportion of Christians varies from 2% to 4% in different areas of the Holy Land, and continues to decline steadily. Those who remain are very largely craft workers, small tradesmen, and those working in the tourist industry that has developed alongside pilgrimages. Such very small minorities can only survive if their skills are high enough to earn them the appreciation and esteem of the society in which they live; and this can only be achieved with high standards of education and training.
Since the end of the 19th century, the Order has financed the construction of 40 Patriarchate schools in Israel, Palestine and Jordan, and it has a continuing commitment to fund at least part of their running costs. Today, around 19,000 students attend these schools, from nursery classes through elementary, middle and upper school, as well as in a number of technical schools. On average, the student breakdown is 60% Christian (Catholics, Orthodox, etc.) and 40% Muslim. It is noteworthy that many leaders of the Moslem community in the Holy Land have been educated in the Patriarchate’s school system, and that they continue to send their children to these schools.
The Order’s emphasis on education aims to deal with a very important problem in the region: how to get people of different races and religions used to living in peace and mutual respect. It is hoped that, if the values of mutual tolerance and cooperation are inculcated and encouraged from an early age, they may become a habit and continue into adult life.
The running costs of the Patriarchate and its 68 parishes, the salaries of the 900+ teachers and other staff in the educational establishments, the costs of the Patriarchate’s seminary and of its orphanages and clinics, as well as those of the Patriarchate’s new enterprises and other ongoing projects (including the construction of housing for young Christian families) are enormous and rise continually, putting a heavy burden on the Patriarchate and on our Order. The Patriarchate is able successfully to manage its budget largely thanks to the continuing generosity of the active Members of the Order.