Order Donates $10.7 Million to Holy Land

Cardinal Encourages Faithful to Send Christmas Card to Pope

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LONDON, DEC. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- This past year, members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem sent almost €8 million ($10.7 million) in donations to the Holy Land.



Cardinal John Foley, grand master of the order, reported this Saturday in London at a lieutenancy meeting regarding the projects the organization is supporting.

He noted the commitment of the order "to the continued existence of a Christian presence in the Holy Land, defined as Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Cyprus."

Part of this funding went to support Benedict XVI's visit to Cyprus earlier this year, and another is going to help in the construction of a Latin Catholic church in Aqaba, Jordan.

The cardinal spoke about plans for future projects, such as the construction of a church in modern-day Jordan at the site of the baptism of Jesus. A convent, monastery and a visitors' center will be built near the church.

He also mentioned plans to build a university in Madaba, Jordan. The cornerstone for this institute was blessed by the Holy Father last year when he visited the Holy Land.

The cardinal noted that he was able to participate in the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops last October in Rome. There he underlined the need to support Catholic education in the Holy Land.

Cardinal Foley told the members of the equestrian order about one project in particular called "One Laptop Per Child," which aims to help give students in Catholic schools the benefit of computer technology.

Justice and peace

Later that day, in Southwark Cathedral, as he gave a homily during an investiture Mass for new members of the order, the prelate noted the organization's norms: assistance to the weak and the needy, work for justice and peace, and defense of the holy places.

"To be a knight or lady of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is truly a vocation," he affirmed, "a vocation to advance in holiness, a vocation to encourage and assist the descendants of the first followers of Jesus Christ in that land made truly holy by his life, death and resurrection, a vocation to proclaim in the Holy Land, in our own environment and in the world at large."

The cardinal urged the new members to follow the example of Blessed John Henry Newman, who "embodied the ideals of our order -- a thirst for holiness and a love of the Lord and of the land which gave him birth and a deep love of his own native land."

On Sunday in Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Foley gave a homily during Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent.

He urged the Catholics of England, "As you welcomed the Vicar of Christ just a few months ago, prepare once again to welcome Christ himself at Christmas."

The prelate continued: "Welcome him in refugees from the Holy Land and from those nations in the Middle East in which Christians are persecuted and indeed martyred; welcome him in the poor, the lonely and the troubled who, at Christmas, can feel more isolated, forgotten and abandoned than ever; indeed, welcome him in those members of the Anglican Communion who are entering into union with the Catholic Church in this very season."

"And in thanksgiving for the wonderful visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to this very cathedral," the cardinal added, "why not send him a card before Christmas, thanking him for his historic visit and promising your prayers for him at Christmas and throughout the year that he may have the strength and divine guidance necessary to prepare us to be welcomed, when God calls us, to our heavenly home in the company of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior."