Help struggling olive wood workers in the Holy Land

Anne Marie Amacher
In this file photo, Father Bill Kneemiller poses with a suitcase of military rosaries, which were assembled in Haiti and distributed to troops worldwide.

The Catholic Messenger

The Holy Land Military Rosary (HLMR) program is participating in AmazonSmile to raise funds to help support financially struggling artisans in Bethlehem who make crucifixes from olive wood for the rosaries. Father Bill Kneemiller, a priest of the Diocese of Davenport who founded the rosary program, hopes to purchase 7,000 crucifixes this month. AmazonSmile customers can help make that happen, he said.

AmazonSmile donates 0.5% of eligible AmazonSmile purchases to charitable organizations selected by customers of the online business. At the electronic checkout, list the name of the charity you have designated for your donation, in this case, Holy Land Military Rosary. The donation from AmazonSmile does not alter your purchase price in any way.

The direct link is available at


“Our mission remains simple. We purchase our hand-carved olive wood crucifixes from Bethlehem Catholic families. Then we make the rosaries, mostly in Muscatine. Then we donate our rosaries to military chaplains via the Augustine Institute. In 2020, we donated over 9,000 military rosaries. We hope to hit 10,000 by the end of December,” Father Kneemiller said.

The Bethlehem families are “close to destitute” because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, he noted. “I hope to purchase our 7,000 plus crucifixes from them this Advent. Our cost is $2 each, well worth the money because of the quality. All of our December donations will go to the Bethlehem families. For more information email Father Kneemiller at”

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