On Saturday, October 10, 2015, the Custody of the Holy Land invited Christian Holy Land students who had received a scholarship to attend a Mass of Thanksgiving for their benefactors and the scholarships they received. The Mass was offered in the Church of St. James, in the district of Beit Hanina in Jerusalem, in support of education.
Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, ofm, Bursar of the Custody of the Holy Land said, “The Custody of the Holy Land has an educational mission: we have several schools in different areas, directed by Franciscan friars. We have shrines, holy places, as well as parishes and schools. We do not give up on our students: we actually direct them from Kindergarten to high school, even during their college studies, since many of them are not able to pay their tuition fees. We support and help those students who deserve to go to college.”
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Fr. Haitham Yalda Henno, ofm, is a Parochial Vicar for a parish in Beit Hanina. “Scholarships are like a bridge which connects the students to the Custody.
The purpose of the Franciscan friars is to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis, whose desire was to put great emphasis on education in the life of the friars: this is why the Franciscan Order wants to support young parishioners of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.”
One of the purposes of the scholarships is our focus on education, so that Christians stay in the Holy Land. The Custody of the Holy Land gives away 500 scholarships per year to the meritorious students, as stated by Father Ibrahim during his interview.
“We give away two types of scholarships: the scholarships given by the Custody of the Holy Land and the ones awarded by the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land; this way we are able to help the students complete their university studies.”
Fadi Yadi, a student at the University of Jerusalem – Abu Dis said, “I received a scholarship from the Franciscans. It is a subsidy that helps Christian students attend local universities: this makes me very happy, because the majority of the students who study medicine or engineering in a foreign country, do not return to the Holy Land after their graduation, on the contrary, they continue to live abroad. This support encourages young people to remain at home.”
Scholarships are a tangible aid for students who want to complete their college studies.
Mishleen Hathweh is another student, but from Bethlehem University. “We, Christians of Jerusalem, face several economic difficulties, which are an obstacle to the continuation of our studies here, in Jerusalem. I would like to thank the Franciscan Friars, as well as the Foundation and all the people in charge of helping young people complete their university studies.”
“First of all, I would like to thank the Custody of the Holy Land, because it continues to carry out this long term mission. Their main purpose is to keep the Palestinian Christian young people here. The Custody helps a lot of people, giving away scholarships to college students. Their financial aid and support helps maintain our presence here, at home, especially here, in Jerusalem,” said Rafi Ghattas, a student at the University of Birzeit.
The Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land has provided hundreds of scholarships for deserving Christian students and continues to do so through the generosity of donors who care about education, justice and the freedom to live and work in the land in which one is born without discrimination.