We’re Leaving for Israel

by Steve Ray on June 16, 2006

On Saturday afternoon we leave for Israel to prepare for our full bus of pilgrims that arrive on June 23. We are all very excited! Janet and I LOVE to share these sites with folks for the first time. What a joy to watch their eyes get big and often well up with tears of joy and wonderment.

You can watch our progress here on my blog. I can actually add blog entries from my handheld on the fly — isn't that cool!

I wrote a 110-page book exclusive for our pilgrims entitled: Handbook for Pilgrims. Here is our itinerary:

Thursday, June 22: Depart USA via overnight flight on scheduled airline to Tel Aviv, Israel.

Friday, June 23: Arrive Tel Aviv Airport where we will be greeted by your guides Steve and Janet Ray. Our motor coach will transport us to the Pilgerhaus Hotel on the shores of Galilee near Tiberias. Check in for three nights and attend a welcome dinner hosted by Steve & Janet Ray. Optional night visit to pier where Steve gives an introduction. Overnight Pilgerhaus Hotel in Tiberias.

Saturday, June 24: Drive to Mount Tabor where Jesus met Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration. Then to Cana of Galilee where married couples will have the chance to renew their wedding vows. After lunch drive to Nazareth for Mass in the Grotto of the Basilica of the Annunciation; visit Church of St. Joseph where the Holy family lived. Overnight at Pilgerhaus Hotel in Tiberias.

000 Sepulchre sm.jpgSunday, June 25: Early departure north to Banias (Caesarea Philippi). Return through Golan Heights. Lunch in En Gev and boat ride on Galilee. Mass at Primacy of Peter Church, walk along the sea, then to Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. Optional dinner at Steve & Janet’s favorite restaurant: Aberge Shulamit. Overnight at Pilgerhaus Hotel in Tiberias.

Monday, June 26: Visit ancient "Jesus Boat" then to Tabgha where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. Visit Capernaum for Mass at St. Peter’s house and and see the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught about eating his Flesh and Blood. Next visit Kursi where the demons were cast in the herd of pigs. Sandwiches at En Gev then renew baptismal vows in the Jordan River at Yardenit. Travel through the Jordan Valley to Jerusalem and along the way we will see many biblical places and look across to Moses’ Mount Nebo as we pass Jericho through the Judean Wilderness and up to Jerusalem. Check in at Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem for the next five nights. Overnight in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, June 27: Early morning Mass at Holy Sepulchre. Breakfast then drive to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field where the angels appeared. After lunch travel to Ein Karem, the birthplace of John the Baptist. Visit the Church of the Visitation and the Church of St. John the Baptist. Overnight Jerusalem.

Wednesday, June 28: Visit southern steps of the Temple, where Jesus surely walked, on our way to the Western Wall. Visit the Garden and Church of Gethsemane and the Grotto of the Arrest. Enter St. Stephen’s Gate and visit Bethesda before Mass at the Church of St. Anne where Mary was born. After lunch visit Mount Zion, the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu ("where the cock crowed") and walk the Roman steps. Visit the Upper Room (Cenacle), Dormition Abbey where Mary "fell asleep." Overnight in Jerusalem.

Thursday, June 29: Optional 6-7 AM visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with Steve. After breakfast pray the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrow) ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Drive to the Mount of Olives for the Chapel of the Ascension where Jesus rose into heaven. Camel rides. Mass at Dominus Flavit (where Jesus wept) overlooking Jerusalem. Afternoon free for exploring, sleeping, praying, shopping, etc. Overnight in Jerusalem

Friday, June 30: Optional trip to Dead Sea, Qumran and Masada. Some may decide to stay back in Jerusalem. Mass and farewell dinner at Seven Arches watching sunset over Jerusalem.

Saturday, July 1: Return home from Tel Aviv after a memorable spiritual journey to the Holy Land.

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