by PAT McCARTHY
New Zealand members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem have been thanked for donating $32,650 to needy families in the Holy Land, who have been severely affected by Covid-19.
The order responded to an appeal from its grand master, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, for humanitarian aid for Christian families in Palestine and Jordan.
Cardinal Filoni said the need was urgent, especially for Christians who had lost their employment due to the collapse of pilgrimages and tourism, and the impossibility of Palestinian workers to commute daily to Israel for work.
He said financial support was also needed to provide a cash flow to enable the continued operation of the 38 schools of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with their 15,000 students and 1300 staff.
Worldwide, the 30,000 knights and dames of the order contributed $NZ5.3 million to the appeal.
The apostolic administrator of the patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said the response “very much exceeded our expectations and has given us that necessary sigh of relief, so that we can manage this emergency with greater calm”.
The chief executive officer of the patriarchate, Sami El-Yousef, said the humanitarian aid had enabled more than 2400 families in 30 parishes to be helped with basic needs, including food coupons, hygiene and baby supplies, medicines and electric meter refills.
In addition, more than 2400 families in Jordan and Palestine had been helped to pay tuition fees for their children.
There have been more than 39,000 cases of Covid-19 in Palestine, more than 9000 in Jordan and more than 233,000 in Israel.