Meeting with Benefactors | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Meeting with Benefactors

Short Presentation CTS

The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep,
the mercenary, faced with danger, abandons them. John 10:11-12
With the help of the Lord, we want to remain in Syria as good shepherds.

Syria is a land which is particularly important for the history of Christianity, since it was on the Road to Damascus that Saint Paul had his experience of conversion. It was in Damascus that he received baptism and delivered his first sermons. Syria is the second cradle of Christianity and it is also a land in which our Franciscan presence is very ancient, and along the centuries it has paid its contribution with the blood of many of its sons who died as martyrs. In the present moment our brothers continue to remain and to help the people in Damascus, Latakia, Aleppo, Knaye and Yacoubieh. Our brothers are committed in their parish ministry, and during this difficult moment they are trying to revive and to sustain the local Christian community, keeping alive the flame of hope and contributing to help those who have remained even by providing for their material needs.
In Damascus we Franciscans of the Holy Land continue to keep alive the two shrines linked with the conversion and baptism of Saint Paul. We also take care of two parishes, in which the local Christians live, together with a community of immigrants from Asia and Africa. We have transformed the pilgrim hospice to a welcome home for refugees who are compelled to leave on a journey to a new home.
In Latakia we take care of a parish, which in these last years has practically doubled in size, since many Christians who have fled from the war zones have found refuge in this city, which at the moment is the most secure city in Syria. Aleppo is currently the most dangerous city on earth. Here our brothers take care of the parish of Saint Francis, where they help approximately fourteen thousand families, coming from every faith and religious confession. We have opened the doors of Terra Sancta College in order to welcome a group of elderly ladies, whose retirement home has been destroyed by bombardments. We are also trying to keep functioning a school for children with special needs. The most important service that our brothers in Aleppo are carrying out is that of keeping alive the hope of the people and to help all to keep their hearts away from hatred and to be open to forgiveness and reconciliation. We are also present in two Christian villages in the Valley of the Orontes River, where two brothers have volunteered to remain close to the people, even though they suffer daily from all kinds of humiliation and psychological pressure. The friars and the people have lost nearly all their belongings, but they are still clinging to their faith. 

I thank all of you for your closeness and generosity, and I would like to ask you to remember in a special way in your prayers all of us Franciscan brothers, who try to live our vocation in the Holy Land and in the entire region of the Middle East. 
We are more than 250 friars from 40 different Countries, living in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Rhodes, Egypt, but also in Italy, in Argentina and here in Washington D.C. in the heart of your Country.
We have received the mandate to be custodians of the Holy Places of Christianity, offering our service in approximately 50 shrines. At the same time we are trying to take care also for the “living stones” of the Holy Land, in 28 Parishes, in 14 schools and in many social activities. 

I ask you to pray for the people who are entrusted to our pastoral care and especially for the populations undergoing suffering and trials because of the war. 
Thanks once again, and may the Lord bless you and reward you for your generosity.
Peace and all good to each and every one. 

Fr. Francesco Patton, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land