Joining Forces to Aid Franciscans in the Holy Land

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The Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL) recently held two separate benefit dinners for Christians in the Holy Land, raising more than a half million dollars.

Dinner Guests attend Franciscan benefit dinner in Columbus

We are standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who wish for peace.

Two benefit dinners recently hosted by the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL) raised more than a half million dollars, organizers say.

The first of the dinners was held in Columbus, OH. Its 10th anniversary event, consisting of a Mass and dinner, took place Thursday, Sept. 10, at St. Charles Preparatory School.

Fr. Peter Vasko, OFM, president of the FFHL in Jerusalem, presided at the Mass, which was concelebrated by nine priests from the Diocese of Columbus.

More than 350 people attended the dinner in the Walter Commons and heard author, radio commentator, and Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid speak about the importance of Catholics living their faith through action such as the support of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.

The event also included the presentation of a special award by Fr. Vasko. Gene and Judy Alfonsi were honored with the “Guardians of the Holy Land” award for their outstanding leadership and support of the work of the Franciscans in the Holy Land over many years.

Chuck Mers, one of the chief organizers for the dinner said the record number of guests were gathered in a spirit of “gratitude” for the perseverance of so many Christians who remain in the Holy Land despite the many challenges they face.

The second dinner was held in Indianapolis, IN. The keynote speaker for the evening was Brother Peter Bray, FSC, EdD and the 8th Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University.

“Brother Bray offered us hope,” said Mike LeCuyer, Indiana Regional Director for the FFHL.

More than 230 guests heard the Vice Chancellor explain, “When one doubts there will be peace in the Holy Land, they need only think of what marvelous things happened in South Africa or Northern Ireland. Peace never seemed possible; yet somehow, beyond my understanding, it happened.”

The message of peace in the Holy Land is one Pope Francis has mentioned numerous times in recent months, including a recent prayer for peace in the Holy Land at the Synod of Bishops.

Mike Hirsch, a chief organizer of the dinner said that he was elated with the outcome of the fundraising dinner. "Our volunteers were an enormous help and the support for our university scholarships and child sponsorships proves that people with generous hearts can really make a positive change in the lives of others.”

Amy McClelland, communications director for the Indiana Region of the FFHL spoke to the spiritual aim of the evening. “We are standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who wish for peace in the land of Jesus. We are showing that we really care about them and all they experience in their daily lives."

Money raised by the dinners primarily benefits the educational programs of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land but also makes room for the support of the twelve other humanitarian programs and projects that assist Christians in the Holy Land.

For more information about the FFHL, visit the press room or contact Chris Weldon at cweldon(at)ffhl(dot)org.

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Chris Weldon
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