Holy Land Pilgrimage – May 2012

02 May 2012 to 11 May 2012

Photos shared by the pilgrims

Patricia Welther’s Google+ album is HERE,
also read her blog about the pilgrimage HERE.

Day One – Arrival

All arrived safely. No lost luggage. Our seminarian is still on his way from Ethiopia. Our Australian pilgrim arrived along with six other Americans, some from Italy where they were visiting. All the others landed in Tel Aviv this afternoon. We picked them up and, except for our seminarian, all are sound asleep after a great meal. (Seminarian arrives at 3 AM.)

We are excited to start another group. We are grateful to the Community Catholic Radio in Baton Rouge for sponsoring and getting a lot of the pilgrims to join the trip. We have a full bus and had to turn people away. It will be a great pilgrimage. Our itinerary is based on the life of Our Lord and Rosary of Our Lady.

Day 2 – Galilee

This trip was inspired by Catholic Community Radio in Baton Rouge Louisiana. A bunch of these good folks are with us along with people from a lot of other states and even Australia and Africa. It is a very lively, Catholic, inquisitive, excited, humorous and fun group of pilgrims. They are firmly set on learning the Faith, celebrating their joy in Christ and walking in the footprints of Our Lord.

Today we visited the top of Mount Tabor where the Transfiguration took place. We prayed the Luminous Mystery of the Transfiguration where it actually happened. Then to Cana to renew wedding vows. I gave a talk on the wedding in John 2 and Amer (our Catholic Nazarene guide) told the history of the site.

Then to Nazareth for an authentic lunch at an Arab Christian restaurant before Mass at the Church of the Annunciation. We prayed the Mystery of the Annunciation in the entrance to the cave where the Angel actually said the words “Hail Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.”

After a tour of this site and my talk “A Day in the Life of the Holy Family” we drove back to Tiberias. On the way back I used my iPhone to do an interview with Catholic Community Radio. What fun! Our whole group yelled, “Wake up Baton Rouge!” We always try to have the second day easy for the pilgrims to regroup, process the whole thing and to rest.

So, everyone had the rest of the afternoon free to swim in the sea, walk into town, rest, go to confession (every day available), pray, have a glass of wine on the shore watching the fish jump and the birds fly or whatever they want. Dinner was delicious as always and a free evening for everyone.

Day 3 – Parts I and II

Day 4 – Boat Ride, Capernaum, Up To Jerusalem

From Galilee to Jerusalem. A very rich, eventful day. Following Mary from Galilee to her relative Elizabeth, pilgrims were surprised that she walked over 90 miles.

We started the day taking a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee and having Mass at Capernaum where Jesus did more miracles than anywhere else. I gave my talk “Defending the Eucharist” at the exact place Jesus taught, “Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood.” Then we ate St. Peters Fish and drove south to Jerusalem.

I (Steve Ray) gave my Conversion Story from Baptist to Catholic on the bus before arriving at the Church of the Visitation. Here I gave my talk “Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant.” Then to our Notre Dame Hotel for a great meal and welcome beds.

Day 5 – Bethlehem

All day in Bethlehem his always special for our pilgrims. This is the burial site of Rachel, wife of Jacob. It is the home of Ruth who became the great-grandmother of David who was born in Bethlehem and probably where he wrote Psalm 23.

It is also prophesied about by Micah 5:2 pronouncing Bethlehem as birthplace of the heavenly king. Then Jesus was born there and later St. Jerome translated the Bible into the Latin Vulgate here.

After shopping, visiting the birthplace of Our Lord (2.5 hour line) we ate schwarma sandwiches at the Christmas Tree Restaurant, then Mass at Shepherds Field where the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. Then a great lamb and rice dinner and dancing.

Day 6 – Parts I and II

Olivet, Mount Zion

Tomb and Bishop

Day 7 – Parts I and II

What a great day. Started the day with Mass at Gethsemane at the stone where Jesus sweat drops of blood. Then to the top of the Mount of Olives where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and from where he ascended into heaven.

Then to Mount Zion. We visited the place where Mary fell asleep before being assumed into heaven and made queen of heaven. Steve explained this based on the Bible. From their to the Upper Room where three sacraments were instituted: priesthood, the Eucharist and Confession. It was here also where the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost.

We then took a guided tour through the excellent Exhibition of the Shroud of Turin. Then everyone had a free afternoon.

At 5 we gathered in the lobby and walked to the Holy Sepulchre where we were met by the Franciscans and escorted in for a Solemn Entry into the Tomb after a pilgrimage greetings.

After that we walked to the Patriarchate and the Bishop of Jerusalem welcomed us in and gave us a talk and his blessing. What a day!

Day 7 Part I – Via Dolorosa, Mass at Tomb

Day 7 Part II – Temple Model, Jericho, Dead Sea, Camel Rides

Day 8 – Last Day, St. Ann’s, Western Wall

Part One: We visited the site of Mary’s birth, where the Immaculate Conception took place. It was also here that Jesus cured the cripple at the Pools of Bethesda in John 5. We listened to some Protestants belittling Mary and the Catholic Church there. Another guide was mocking the Via Dolorosa.

We then went to the Western Wall and I told the pilgrims the story of the Wall and we all prayed there — for the conversion of the Jewish people. It was pretty exciting since it was Bar Mitzvah Thursday. Then to lunch at Ramat Rachel overlooking Bethlehem before a free afternoon.

Then the happy-sad part. We all had dinner together and hugged, cried, said our good-byes and got a lot of comments on video for all of you to see.

Comments and goodbyes