To the Editor:
Around 8,000 Catholics live in the greater Bethlehem area of the Holy Land. Ghassan Alsahouri of Little Bethlehem, who represents the Holy Land citizens who produce olive wood crucifixes, provides an update on their situation.
The Catholics live in three cities about three miles from Bethlehem. The largest city is Beit-Sahour, also known as “Shepherd’s Field.” Second is Beit-Jala, with a legacy of St. Nicholas living there, and the third city is Jasna, with a population of about 2,000-3,000 Catholics.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 80% of the Catholics’ income came from pilgrimages that visitors made to Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Pilgrims were not able to travel and the churches in those holy cities were closed this past year because of the pandemic. That situation has left Catholics nearly destitute, Alsahouri said.
One of their few sources of income is the sale of olive wood crucifixes and olive wood products. In the last year (2020) we are happy to report that the Holy Land Military Rosary organization purchased 10,000 olive wood crucifixes and donated the rosaries to military chaplains around the world.
I am also starting a Holy Land Decade Rosary that we will be selling to schools for grade-school kids to purchase a rosary and cloth case. The crucifixes for these rosaries also will be purchased from the Catholics in the Holy Land. The cost for the rosaries is $1 and 100% of the funds will go directly to the Catholic families in the Holy Land.
For more information on The Holy Land Military Rosary or to make a donation, contact Father Bill Kneemiller at kneemillerw@
diodav.org or call (563) 321-0124.
Father Bill Kneemiller