Catholics of the Philadelphia Archdiocese brightened the prospects of Christians in the Middle East this year by donating $291,157 in the Pontifical Good Friday Collection taken up in parishes last spring.

The leader of Catholic sites in the Holy Land under Franciscan direction, Friar John-Sebastian, wrote a letter dated Sept. 22 to Archbishop Charles Chaput, who is a Capuchin Franciscan, a branch of the order of religious priests and brothers.

Friar John thanked the archbishop for the donated funds, which he said help support 29 parishes, 16 schools educating more than 10,000 children, priestly formation for 100 seminarians, senior care, employment assistance, emergency relief for people in Syria and Iraq and care for 74 Christian shrines in the Holy Land.

“Your support and prayers also bring hope to our brothers and sisters in Christ, who often feel alone in their struggles,” wrote Friar John, secretary of the Franciscan Commissariat of the Holy Land.

“God bless you in your ministry,” Friar John concluded.