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Mass, Vows, Seas, and Bible Stories: CATHOLIC CHARITIES HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE—FALL 2019

Catholic Charities’ fourth annual Faith Journeys trip brought together 41 pilgrims from across the diocese to follow in Jesus’ footsteps through the Holy Land. Our November trip inspired a special bond of faith and friendship among the travelers as we literally walked through Bible stories on our way to a deeper understanding of the global Catholic faith in all its strength and glory.

Monsignor John Steiner led our group and offered daily Mass in churches across Israel that hold special meaning for our Catholic faith. We worshipped in Tabgha, where Christ performed the miracle of the fishes and the loaves, and at Mt. Tabor, the site of his transfiguration. We visited Jericho, the setting for the Gospel story about Zacchaeus the tax collector, and, miraculously, it was the daily scripture on the day we visited!

These spiritual encounters bonded our group and drew us closer to other Catholics in the Body of Christ. Monsignor marveled at how many more pilgrims were visiting Israel compared with his last trip to the Holy Land 10 years ago. In one homily, he proclaimed that “the Catholic faith is alive and well!” It was inspiring to see so many people from across the world praying and visiting the holy sites and to see that our group was right there with them, helping build Christ’s Church on earth with our companionship and Eucharistic celebrations.

The highlights of the trip were many and meaningful because they all occurred in places where Jesus performed miracles. The married couples on the trip renewed their wedding vows in a ceremony at Cana, and we read the Gospel story of Jesus calming the storm as we cruised and reflected on the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus performed so many of his miracles.

Our pilgrimage was enhanced by the unique Israeli-Catholic perspective of our guide, Usama. He worshipped in our Masses and explained the cultural norms during Jesus’s time on earth. He explained with nuance the tenuous relationship the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian faiths share in one of the holiest places on earth.

Throughout our trip, our friendships bloomed as we shared experiences swimming in the Dead Sea, wading in the Jordan River, and following the Stations of the Cross in the Old City of Jerusalem. We returned with renewed faith as individuals, deeper connections as friends, and a powerful sense of our own place within the global Body of Christ.

If you would like to join us on a future Faith Journey, contact Shelli Brotherton at (509) 358-4257.