The attention of the Custody of the Holy Land for its employees despite the Coronavirus

Posted on May 29, 2020

 

The economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic have not spared even the Custody of the Holy Land, especially since the pilgrimages have completely stopped and external funding has decreased.

 

Br STÉPHANE MILOVITCH, ofm
Human Resources Manager of the Custody of the Holy Land

“This year we did not have the Good Friday Collection, thanks to which we pay many workers. The situation is quite critical. However, with the help of God and Providence, the Custody has always carried out its mission for 800 years, facing many difficulties. Over the centuries it has encountered many difficulties, but we are still here. We will overcome these difficulties too.”

About 1100 workers work in various fields in Franciscan institutions, in Palestine and Israel, and about 70 percent of them had to be laid off. But the Custody of the Holy Land without hesitation decided to take into account their economic conditions.

Br STÉPHANE MILOVITCH, ofm
Human Resources Manager of the Custody of the Holy Land

“As a Church we have to take care of the “salt of the earth”, that is, the people. We can’t send them home and do nothing. We have to try to pay them at least a little. Our Palestinian workers do not receive money from the state, so the Custody has chosen to pay half their salary. They are not working, but we pay them, and that is a big effort for us. But there are difficulties for everyone right now.”

JOSEPH SAFAR
Employee of the Custody of the Holy Land – Bethlehem

“I thank God because I am still an employee of the Custody of the Holy Land, which continues to give me 50 percent of my monthly salary, through which I support my family until the situation returns to normal. What comes from heaven is accepted from earth. I am grateful, Lord, for everything.

“May is one of the best times for tourism here. But due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the closure of the Church of the Nativity, the streets of the city are empty. My family lives thanks to this small shop, which depends mainly on tourism…but as you can see it is empty, all the shops nearby are closed.”

LEILA JABRIEH
Employee of the Custody of the Holy Land – Bethlehem

“Despite the harsh conditions that the Custody of the Holy Land is going through, it has not stopped giving us 50 percent of our monthly salary. They are still at our side and have not abandoned us.
The situation here is sad and discouraging, especially in Bethlehem. I have been working here for 30 years and this is the first time that I see this empty hotel, without pilgrims.”

The custody by the Franciscan friars is not limited to the stones of these Holy Places and to preserving the values that derive from them. But, again, their mission goes beyond that, and is aimed at preserving the Christian presence constituted by the living stones.