For U.S. Franciscans, Holy Land visit brings hope

JERUSALEM — About a month before their religious order’s 800th anniversary celebrations, some U.S. Franciscans visited the Holy Land. The weeklong peace pilgrimage proved to be a reminder their founder, St. Francis of Assisi.

The order is no stranger to the Holy Land.  St. Francis visited the Holy Land after 1220, and his order has been there ever since. Today the Franciscans are in charge of caring for most of the holy sites in the Holy Land.

But this early-March peace pilgrimage wasn’t so much about churches and religious sites.

The Franciscan group from the New York-based Holy Name Province focused on encountering those who live in the Holy Land — Palestinians and Israelis.

Father Jacek Orzechowski, co-chair of the province’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate, said the visit gave him hope that there can be peace.

“Cynicism is a buffer against making a personal commitment to working toward justice and peace,” he said.

Noting that St. Francis was “very daring and bold in overcoming propaganda,” he said Franciscans are called to be “bold and strengthen our commitment to overcome a great deal of misinformation bordering on propaganda.”

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