Iraqi and Syrian refugees who have fled persecution in their homelands and the Palestinian Christians struggling to survive in the land of Jesus deserve the prayers and material support of Catholics around the globe, according to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri.

In a letter sent to bishops around the world, Cardinal Sandri asked for continued support for the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land. The collection supports the Holy Land shrines connected with the life of Jesus as well as for providing pastoral care to the region’s Catholics, running schools, operating charitable institutions and training future priests and religious.

Bishop Michael Smith requests that the contents of the Cardinal’s letter be made public and that parishes facilitate this collection on Good Friday.

Along with Cardinal Sandri’s letter, the Vatican press office released some details of how the 2014 collection was disbursed. It said close to $2.5 million was used to provide emergency assistance to people in Iraq and Syria; just over $2.6 million was used to support Catholic education at every level; and about $2.4 million went to a variety of small programs, such as¬†university scholarships for 295 students, the purchase of equipment for 10 small artisanal businesses and the restoration of houses where some of the poorest families in Bethlehem live. In addition, assistance was provided for housing projects in the Old City of Jerusalem and in Bethlehem.