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St. Joseph Project Hopes to Put Christian Carvers

Life, Marriage & Family

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Back to Work in Bethlehem Peter Martin

Director of Life, Marriage & Family and Communications pmartin@dowr.org

Misaad Misaad, a Christian carver from the Holy Land, carves an original St. Joseph statue as part of the St. Joseph Project.

The following was published by the Diocese of Saginaw on August 3, 2021. It is reprinted here with permission. Quotes by Saginaw's Bishop Robert Gust have been replaced with quotes from Bishop John M. Quinn, and information regarding the ordering of statues has been updated.

�ith the inspiration of St. Joseph … and olive

wood, Rami Qumsieh is trying to put Christians in Bethlehem back to work. “There is no consistency of any work,” said Christians of the Holy Land founder Rami Qumsieh. “The hardship for families is exponential. It’s hard enough raising a family, and to add to it lack of income puts tremendous stress on the fabric of the family.” The pandemic has devastated the Christian community’s ability to earn a living since early in 2020.

The statues are blessed by Fr. Issa Hijazeen at the Church of Nativity and the Church of Shepherds Town (Beit Sahour). September 2021 w The Courier w dowr.org

Travel restrictions brought Holy Land pilgrimages to a halt, and along with it the income generated by pilgrimage related businesses (which employ nearly 80 percent of the Christian population in the area). Support Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ

“When I received the olive wood, hand carved statue of St. Joseph, I realized that we have another wonderful opportunity to support our fellow Christians in the Holy Land,” said Bishop John M. Quinn. “These beautiful statues help provide financial support for our brothers and sisters in Christ, so they can remain in the Holy Land as a living and worshiping Christian community.” The statues are being carved during the Year of Saint Joseph (December 8, 2020, through December 8, 2021) which was proclaimed by Pope Francis. During this year, all are invited to discover, anew, St. Joseph and his role as a hidden, though loving and beloved father who showed courage and obedience. Every St. Joseph statue that is carved is blessed by Father Issa Hijazeen at the Church of Nativity and the Church of Shepherds Town (Beit Sahour). “With this St. Joseph Project, Mr. Qumsieh is promoting the re-assuring slogan among the wood carvers, ‘If you carve it, you'll be paid,’” said Father Issa Hijazeen, parish priest of Our Lady of Fatima Church Beit-Sahour, Palestine. “During this very difficult period in the Holy Land, all work opportunities are welcomed and needed. We pray for Mr. Qumsieh, to succeed in this project and for all his efforts to continue yielding fruit, as he represents a direct and sustainable source of revenue for our local Christian community.” The carvers, themselves, have expressed their gratitude for work and are hopeful of support. With the majority of families out of work for more than a year, and without the equivalent of PPP loans or stimulus checks, Christians in the Holy Land are having a difficult time making ends meet. “It’s a struggle,” Rami said. “The community is suffering.”

“I pray this project is a success,” said carver, Misaad Misaad. A desire to help the Christian community, who represents less than 2 percent of those living in Bethlehem and surrounding areas, led Rami to turn to St. Joseph and olive wood. His hope is to put carvers like Misaad to work, empowering them to earn money by carving St. Joseph statues. Those who support the project will own a handmade, original and blessed St. Joseph statue. “A purchase serves as a Spiritual and Corporal Work of Mercy as it employs, feeds and comforts those in need,” Rami said. “A purchase also demonstrates solidarity, loyalty and prudence towards the Christian identity of our Holy Land." St. Joseph statue order forms have been shared with parishes across the Diocese of WinonaRochester. Those who are interested in placing an order and supporting this project are encouraged to make their orders directly through their parish, where possible, as collective shipping can save each parishioner $10. Look for your order form in next week’s bulletin or contact your parish office for a form. Keeping in mind the suffering of our Catholic and Christian community in the Holy Land, and giving honor to Saint Joseph's profession as a woodworker (carpenter), this olive wood statue will memorialize this Year of Saint Joseph and increase devotion to him, while helping our faithful Christians in Bethlehem. Bishop Quinn prays that this initiative not only help sustain the Christians in the Holy Land, but that it also may bless our Church: “May St. Joseph, protector of the universal Church, guard all of us from every danger and evil, as he protected the Holy Family.”

Christians of the Holy Land Founder Rami Qumsieh holds St. Joseph statues, which are available for purchase in two sizes.

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The Courier - September 2021  

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