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2014
custodia.org

Mass Reservations On-Line – Now Possible

The FPO (Franciscan Pilgrims Office), as it is already known, is the department in charge of handling reservations for Masses and prayers in the holy places managed by the Custody of the Holy Land. Since his appointment to direct the Christian Information Center of Jerusalem, Fra Agustin Pelayo, who has a degree in Tourism Management, has undertaken a number of renovation projects, both architectural and organizational. On the most important of 2014 will be the creation of a computer program to facilitate on-line Mass reservations. The program will be a relief both for the Custody of the Holy Land and for the travel agencies that for years have been managing as best they could with telephone calls and emails with huge schedules and multiple comings and goings in the sanctuaries.

On Monday the 18th of August at 4:00 in the afternoon, Palestinian, Israeli and international travel agencies were invited to the program’s launch. Over 150 agencies attended. After a brief welcome, the director of the Christian Information Center gave the floor to two of his team members, Rana Habash and Mike Kattan, programmer and project foreman. Using a large screen on which the interface was projected, Mike Kattan explained the program’s various functions: reservation or cancellation of a ceremony, history, annual statistics, on-line billing. He emphasized its simplicity of use, which requires just one registration per agency. A username and provisional password will soon be sent to the agencies so that they can register their details (locale, contacts, name of agency liaison, etc.). So as not to lose any of this information, a detailed booklet will be made available to the public, explaining the reservation process. The site will very soon be translated into various languages and will accept reservations for the sanctuary in Nazareth.

The reservations system will be put on line at the beginning of October, permitting agencies and groups to see not only the availability of the sanctuaries, but also their capacity, and to avoid double booking. “It will not be possible to reserve two masses on the same day for the same group,” stressed Rana Habash before adding, “it will be entirely possible reserve both a mass and a time of prayer or a Holy Hour of adoration. The most important thing is to be on time!” Carefully following all the rules will guarantee both smooth functioning and fluid exchanges between the Custody and the agencies. Those attending the meeting were pleased with the improvement and requested clarification of the FPO’s terminology.

The Custos of the Holy Land, Fra Pizzaballa, closed the meeting with thanks for the rich and necessary interaction. He repeated the Custody of the Holy Land’s desire to facilitate the reception of groups, as well as to become more modern and efficient. “This is only the beginning,” he declared. Taking advantage of the audience, he also announced the beginning of work on the Gethsemane sanctuary, which will connect the sanctuary to the Kedron Valley, thereby facilitating access and reception of groups.

The email address of the FPO for more information is: fpo@cicts.org.

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