For the past few years, we have welcomed the Holy Arts team to our parish, and we are thrilled to welcome them again this year. They will be here after all of the Masses on March 2 and 3 offering their wide array of olive wood carvings for sale.
The team members come to us from the Holy Land. A family of Palestinian Christians, their mission is to offset the effect that tourism dwindling in the area is having on many Palestinian families’ incomes.
“We live in a poor country where people depend on tourism for their livelihood,” says Raad Qumsieh, the current owner of Holy Arts. “Many families make these olive wood carvings and depend on the sale of them to make a living. But because of constant conflict in the area, tourists have stayed away, and people aren’t able to make a living as a result.”
With this in mind, Raad’s great-uncle started Holy Arts back in 2000. Together, the Holy Arts team collects a multitude of olive wood carvings from the Holy Land locals. They bring them over to the U.S. and offer them for sale in parishes around our country year after year. It is a beautiful ministry, offering us the opportunity to own some beautiful handmade religious art and offering the residents of the Holy Land an opportunity to make money they otherwise wouldn’t have.
“Ninety percent of the Christians work in this industry,” Raad says. “This is how they make their living.”
While it has been the case for years now that tourism is down in the area, today, as the war rages on in the Holy Land, the desperation of the people is at an all-time high.
“Parishioners look forward to this every year,” Fr. Paul says. “And this year, with everything going on in the Holy Land, I hope people will consider purchasing their items. Many pilgrims can’t get over there now, and this is one way we can help them.”
But it’s not just an act of compassionate service to the people of the Holy Land for which we welcome Raad and his team. The art they offer is gorgeous! They will have crucifixes and nativity scenes, statues, and more. The work of the artists is unmatched, and the pieces are beautiful sacramentals that we are blessed to display in our homes.
Raad and his team will have their items displayed in the narthex after every Mass the weekend of March 2 and 3. Make time to peruse their items and consider adding into your budget the ability to purchase something from them. You will surely be blessed by whatever you procure!