About Us

We Are a Catholic and Franciscan Ministry

We are a Catholic and Franciscan ministry. As such, we believe the Church which Jesus Christ founded is the Roman Catholic Church. Christ founded it upon Simon Peter as the rock (Matthew 16:17-19), to which all might refer in order to be sure they have the right Church. As the one true Church of God she is the divinely authorized Dispenser of the revelation (supernatural truth) made by Jesus Christ, the God-Man. Within the lifetime of the 12 Apostles, this Church of Jesus Christ was founded in all parts of the civilized world. As a Catholic Christian, St. Francis of Assisi believed this, and through prayer, penance and preaching renewed this same church in the 13th century. He established the largest spiritual tradition (or family) in the Catholic Church, and those who are formally a part of it are called “Franciscans.”

The Mission Statement

Terra Sancta Ministries is a Franciscan ministry of Catholic evangelization that builds bridges with the Mother Church of Jerusalem and cultivates devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, to form Christian disciples that fervently follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Faith-Raising,” not Fundraising

Faith-raising, not fundraising, is our goal and method.  As a ministry, we trust in Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount to rely on our heavenly Father’s divine providence for all our needs.  Thus, we do not fundraise, but by prayer we do “faith-raise.”  We are a grassroots, volunteer-run ministry.  Terra Sancta Ministries is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 charitable organization registered in the State of Michigan and is a Private Association of the Faithful approved by the Archdiocese of Detroit.  We rely on Divine Providence and donations for all our operational needs.  Donations are tax-deductible.


Our logo incorporates love for the Mother Church of Jerusalem and love for the Mother of God.

Terra Sancta means “Holy Land” or “holy ground” in Latin. It primarily means the land where Jesus lived (Israel, Palestine), but it also means the holy premises of the Pontiac shrine—“bringing Terra Sancta to a terra sancta”—sanctified by generations of prayers.

The burning heart is the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary—aflame for love of God but pierced with sword of sorrow (Luke 2:35) and covered with thorns as Our Lady appeared to Sister Lucia (of Fatima) in 1925 at Pontevedra, Spain, with the Christ Child saying: “Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother: It is covered with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to remove them with an act of reparation.”

The crown above the heart symbolizes the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary who reigns with Jesus as the Queen-Mother.

The radiating rays are the holiness emanating from Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

The crossed arms are from the Franciscan coat of arms: the stigmatized hand of Jesus (the bare arm) and the stigmatized hand of St. Francis of Assisi—the first person we know to have received the mystical gift of the stigmata (the arm with the brown sleeve).

Our History

The history of Terra Sancta Ministries began in 2004 while Fr. Alex was living in the Holy Land for a year with Palestinian Christians. He spiritually led his first pilgrimage in that same year. Patti Giangrande, OFS, a Secular Franciscan, joined in leading pilgrimages in 2005. After some time leading pilgrimage they discerned God’s will for the need to bring the Franciscan charism into pilgrimage ministry. In 2008 Terra Sancta Pilgrimages was founded or “born”—on the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, June 24, 2008. Due to this divinely-chosen date, he became the co-patron of our ministry. St. Joseph is our principle patron—the Guardian and Guide of what we do as he was for Mary and Jesus.

The name “Terra Sancta” came to Fr. Alex during Eucharistic adoration when it occurred to him that was the name of the Franciscan province of Friars Minor in the Holy Land. The idea of “making holy ground” (sanctifying society) through following Jesus—and with the Blessed Virgin Mary’s help—is what underlies everything we do. We began with the name “Terra Sancta Pilgrimages” but, since the purchase of the shrine, we use “Terra Sancta Ministries.”

We operate one of Michigan’s Marian Shrines.  The first Marian shrine is Nazareth itself, where the Archangel Gabriel visited young Mary of Nazareth to ask her if she would be the Mother of God. Thus, connecting Marian dimensions of Catholic spirituality to the Holy Land always keeps it centered in divine and biblical revelation and thus, a perennial source of renewal.