Arizona diocese collecting musical instruments for Holy Land youth
By Bern Zovistoski

.- Tucson members of one of the oldest yet least-known organizations within the Roman Catholic Church are looking for musical instruments for kids half way around the world.

Any kind, thank you– except drums, tubas and pianos.  They’re just too big and bulky to make the trip.

The goal of the Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is to give the instruments to two Catholic-run non-sectarian schools near Amman, Jordan, so the youngsters there can learn to play.

Jim Ronstadt, a spokesman for the organization, said collection of donated instruments will begin this month and continue through September. The plan is to take them to Jordan this fall during the Order’s annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Billed as a “super pilgrimage,” the entourage will be led by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles. Ronstadt said about 130 pilgrims are signed up, and the goal is to enlist 250 for the trip, slated for Nov. 1-12 with an optional Jordan extension tour Nov. 12-16.

Donated instruments can be dropped off at either of the two locations of Beaver’s Band Box, at 7918 N.Oracle Rd. or 4570 East Broadway. Owner Dan Beaver will accept the instruments and provide donors with receipts for tax purposes.

Ronstadt said the idea was born when the group made a pilgrimage last year with Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas and found there were no musical instruments at the schools in Zarka, although teachers were available. The schools accommodate elementary, middle and high school students. Zarka North has 675 students, including 395 females.

Zarka, about 40 miles north of Amman, has about a million inhabitants but the city is not affluent because most workers hold low-paying positions in small textile factories. The poor economy and the absence of government assistance leaves the private schools in an operating deficit that is absorbed by the Latin Patriarchate.

“Despite the financial obstacles students receive a good education,” Ronstadt said.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is a chivalric order of Knighthood that traces its beginnings to the First Crusade. It is the chosen organization to guard the Holy Sepulchre, the sacred place where Christ was crucified and was buried. In simple terms, their main objective today is to support and promote Christianity in the Holy Land, where today, Christians are a minority.

Membership carries with it certain spiritual and temporal responsibilities with the first being daily prayer for peace in the Holy Land.  Praying the “Memorare” to Our Lady, Queen of Palestine is especially encouraged. The Blessed Virgin Mary, under this title, was officially declared patroness of the order in 1994, by order of the Apostolic See.

Another responsibility is working for the preservation and spread of the faith in the Holy Land by giving as generously as possible to the Order for the promotion and development of charitable Catholic works there and to support the missions of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. One of those missions is the building and support of 45 patriarchate schools, providing approximately 19,000 students an education based on Christian values.  Churches, convents and seminaries have also been built and are supported by funds of the Order.

You needn’t be a member of the Order to sign up for the pilgrimage, Ronstadt said. For details, including trip costs and itinerary, email [email protected] or go to www.superpilgrimage2009.com/updates.

Printed with permission from the New Vision, newspaper from the Diocese of Tucson.

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