Each year on Good Friday the Church pauses to recall Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. This is the only day of the entire year that there is no celebration of the Holy Mass, causing us to ponder and venerate the cross.
It is also every year on Good Friday that a special collection is asked of the faithful at the Good Friday service. This special collection offered throughout the world is used to assist the ministry of the Church in the Holy Land. It is with the funds from the Good Friday Collection that Holy Land Franciscans provide presence, care and service to the people who are living in the Holy Land. We all can help preserve important shrines critical in the history of the Christian faith, support pastoral care to the Christian community and provide for the poor through housing development and scholarship opportunities by giving to this Good Friday collection. Many thanks to those who generously offered a donation for the Good Friday collection.
After the Good Friday Service collection, the important work of caring for the Holy Land continues. There are those among us who have responded to a call to keep Christianity alive in the Holy Land. Who are these individuals? They are known as the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre. If you have ever come across a member of the Holy Sepulchre especially when vested in their black and white robes at a Diocesan Mass you might just wonder: Who are those people and why are they dressed that way?
The quickest answer to the importance and function of the Order can be summed up in one statement: The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives which are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. Now what does that mean? What it really means is that the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. This support comes both in prayers and generous financial support. There are many wonderful institutions and organizations that the order supports. Some of those great institutions include the Patriarchate Seminary, Bethlehem University, rehabilitation hospitals, and orphanages.
The commitment of the nearly 30,000 members throughout the world truly keep Christianity alive in the Holy Land. Each member is committed to offering concrete actions to share in this much needed work. Despite the generous support of the Order, the Christian presence continues to diminish. If not for the work of the Holy Sepulchre order the very presence of Christianity there would be far less than it already currently stands. The primary members of the order are laity throughout the world. Members of the clergy also stand as members in the Order. Each year, lieutenancies or regions, throughout the world welcome new members into the Order at the annual meeting. Members from the Diocese of San Bernardino form part of the Western USA Lieutenancy. While entrance into the Order is by invitation only, the order is always open and looking for new members who have a deep commitment and willing spirit to carry on the mission of the Order in service to the Holy Land.
If you would like more information about the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem or would like to support the efforts of the order, you can go to Western USA Lieutenancy website at http://eohsjwesternusa.org.