The pilgrims who come to the Holy Land meet the Franciscans almost exclusively at the Sanctuaries, but many of them are actually involved in numerous pastoral, social and welfare activities.
The Custody has learned that a building cannot be built and preserved if, at the same time, the collateral structures of a humanitarian nature are not looked after. In their eight centuries in the Holy Land and in many countries in the Middle East, the Franciscans have established many social and welfare activities.
These include running children’s institutes often in the care of other religious communities that collaborate with the friars. There are old people’s homes and medical-welfare centres for the elderly, such as the one in Bethlehem which is part of a project run by the NGO of the Custody, ATS – pro Terra Sancta.
The Homes activity is also very important for the local Christians, which aims to help families by contributing to the fundamental problem of housing. Through various building projects of whole areas, free housing is given to many families, contributions for the rent are given to other families and houses in precarious conditions are renovated.
Help for the problem of education is offered through Scholarships for University and programmes aiming to bear the costs of the whole school year for children. Lastly, the friars have started workshops to help deal with the employment problem.