By Sarah Mac Donald - 03 April, 2015
As Holy Week ceremonies draw to their highpoint from the Chrism Mass, to Good Friday and finally Easter Sunday, Bishop Michael Smith of Meath has appealed to the faithful to support the Middle East’s Christians on Good Friday.
In a message to the faithful of his diocese, the Bishop of Meath requested that the contents of a letter from Vatican Cardinal Leonardo Sandri be made public.
The letter, which was sent to bishops around the world asks for continued support for the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land.
The collection supports the Holy Land shrines connected with the life of Jesus as well as for providing pastoral care to the region’s Catholics, running schools, operating charitable institutions and training future priests and religious.
Iraqi and Syrian refugees who have fled persecution in their homelands and the Palestinian Christians struggling to survive in the land of Jesus deserve the prayers and material support of Catholics around the globe, Cardinal Sandri states.
Bishop Smith has asked parishes in his diocese to facilitate this collection on Good Friday.
Meanwhile, the Vatican’s press office has released some details of how the 2014 Good Friday collection was disbursed.
Close to $2.5 million was used to provide emergency assistance to people in Iraq and Syria; just over $2.6 million was used to support Catholic education at every level; and about $2.4 million went to a variety of small programmes, such as university scholarships for 295 students, the purchase of equipment for 10 small artisanal businesses and the restoration of houses where some of the poorest families in Bethlehem live.
In addition, assistance was provided for housing projects in the Old City of Jerusalem and in Bethlehem.