The Order's work in the Holy Land
Central to the Order's work is helping to meet the many needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Diocese of the Latin Patriarch covers Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, and Cyprus. It serves some 72000 Catholics in 60 parishes. The financial support of the Order is vital for the parish clergy and the maintenance of the Patriarchal Seminary and the Patriarchal schools. It also supports the building of homes and aiding social projects, support for professional schools and loans for farming and craft work.
The Seminary is at Beit Jala. The Rector, Fr Adib Zoomof, is in charge of the education of students in both the Lower (Junior) Seminary and Upper (Senior) Seminary. There are typically some 80-90 students in total. The budget for the Seminary covers not only the costs of the two sections but also those of the regular and visiting teachers and the Sisters of St Dorothy who look after the institution's domestic requirements.
The Patriarchate maintains 41 schools, 5 of which are in Israel, 14 in Palestine and 22 in Jordan. There are some 18,800 pupils in these schools, of whom approximately 12,100 are Christians (64%) and 6700 non-Christians (36%) (2008 figures). Successive recent Patriarchs have firmly believed that in countries with a Christian minority, Christians and Muslims must mix from a very early age so that they will be able to co-exist more easily in the future. The Lieutenancy has maintained a particular interest in supporting the Patriarchate's schools, both through its own efforts and through those of the Cambridge Nazareth Trust, which was founded 25 years ago by a group of its Members. For the past two years, the Lieutenancy of England and Wales has been funding The English Project, to provide targeted help with the training of teachers of English in these schools.
In 1992, a "consortium" of Lieutenancies, comprising the Netherlands, France, England and Wales, Austria and Germany, combined to finance the building of the school at Reneh, near Nazareth. This was completed in 11 months. In 1996 two further floors were added to accommodate a sixth form, providing 6 extra classrooms, a laboratory, computer room, staff room and additional toilet facilities. The school now has over 900 pupils of which more than half are Christians. The same Lieutenancies also contributed to the school at Fuheis, near Amman. Completed in 1995, this school now has more than 1000 pupils, the great majority of them being Christians. A more recent multi-national project was the building of a school in Kerak to cater for up to 1000 pupils. The opening ceremony took place in the summer of 2001. Kerak is the largest town in South Jordan, in one of the oldest parishes in the Latin Patriarchate, established in 1871.
Another beneficiary of the Order's support is the University of Bethlehem, established at the request of Pope Paul VI in 1973 and managed by the De La Salle Brothers. Higher Education and vocational courses aligned to the needs of the community are provided here for students of all faiths.
One of the Order's projects for 2012 was for the underpinning and renovation of the Vicariate Building in Amman. This is the site from which Bishop Maroun Lahham, the Vicar in Jordan for the Latin Patriarch, manages the Vicariate. There are, of course, no photographs of the underpinning work but these images, taken in April 2013, show how various parts of the building look after the renovation. The work done appears to be of very high quality and makes for an imposing building as the base of the Vicariate.
The Order is also involved at the social level. The Latin Patriarchate has built a housing complex near Ramallah where, through the support of the Order, 28 apartments have been allocated to poor families.
The work of the Order continues. The Christian community in the Holy Land represents a physical link between the modern world and the life and times of Christ. The Knights and Dames of the Order are committed to ensuring that the quality of this link is maintained and enhanced throughout the years to come.