The tenth annual Cradling Christianity fundraiser was held at St. Charles Chapel and Walter Commons in Columbus, Ohio, on September 10, 2015. The evening gala was very successful with proceeds raised to directly benefit the fourteen programs of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land and most especially, the University Scholarship Program. Over 360 generous donors attended the annual event. The money was raised to lend direct support to the mission of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), which is to preserve the Christian presence in the Holy Land.
Chuck Mers, one of the chief organizers for the dinner said, “The attitude and atmosphere was one of a Spiritual blessing of gratitude, giving and extreme joy by all who attended. Several of those in attendance had expressed how this event was so special, and they felt the “mission” of assisting our marginalized Christian brothers and sisters as never before.”
There was apparently some excited in the dinner atmosphere as well. Mr. Mers recalled, “Many were excited about participating in the raffle drawing because the prize was a free pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The entire room was filled with magnetism when Fr. Peter announced the winner who happened to be a retired businessman. He and his wife were truly overjoyed by the opportunity to visit the Holy Land and meet some of the very people Cradling Christianity assists in its mission.”
Many in central Ohio have made pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and others have shared their resources to support the Christian Palestinians. In it’s tenth anniversary, Cradling Christianity has raised close to $1 million to provide university scholarships and tuition assistance to Christian students in the Holy Land.
Fr. Peter Vasko, OFM, president of the FFHL, and a resident of Jerusalem for 30 years, provided an update on the current situation there.
He said, “The Arab-Jewish conflict has endured for hundreds of years as generations pass their hatred down seemingly through their DNA.” In the middle of conflict, through no fault of their own, Arab Christians often suffer from discrimination and lack of opportunity.
Patrick Madrid was the guest speaker for the benefit dinner.
The evening concluded with a video summary of the importance of the work that Cradling Christianity does on behalf of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land. Though the venue experienced some technical challenges, the video presentation, “A Heart for the Holy Land” still proved to be a very special moment in the evening, Mers said.
“All eyes were glued to one of the two huge screens as individuals gave a brief presentation about the mission of Cradling Christianity (FFHL) and how much they need our assistance. Several pictures of students were featured, which added a personal touch to the presentation.”
The dinner committee and the FFHL would like to express their warm gratitude to all in attendance and those who could not join them for the evening yet still contributed through their prayers and resources.