Family Holy Land – Christmas – December 2016

28 December 2016 to 06 January 2017



Family Holy Land Pilgrimage with Franciscan University off to GREAT Start - Lots of Kids and Young People

Steve Ray here. I conceived of the idea of a Family Holy Land Pilgrimage a few years ago when I saw how many young people were leaving the faith as soon as they got into college. I remember how my four children were fundamentally changed by their early trips to Israel with us.

I though, “Why should parents and grandparents pay $50,000+ to send their children to university where so mean lose their Faith when they could spend a fraction of that to send them to the Holy Land with us — to insure they will NEVER lose their faith?”

So, here we are in the Holy Land in conjunction with Franciscan University of Steubenville with two full buses of marvelous excited kids and young people galore! Enjoy our first day arriving in Israel! We had our first Mass at Mount Carmel at Stella Maris and you can listen to the opening homily here.

Feast of Holy Family in Nazareth, also Cana and Transfiguration

What an amazing day with our families as we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family at the House of the Holy Family in Nazareth with our FAMILY Holy Land Pilgrimage!!

We also renewed our wedding vows in Cana and prayed Mass at the top of the Mount of Transfiguration. Enjoy Fr. Matt’s Homily and the rest of our adventures.  We also joined some Jewish friends in lighting the menorah candles for Hanukkah.

Families in Israel, Beatitudes, Wading in Galilee, Syrian Border and more

Fun watching all the young people interact and learn along the way. Everyone’s having a blast! Today we had Mass at beatitudes (homily here), priests gave their vocation stories on the buses, Caesarea Philippi where Jesus appointed Peter as the rock and gave him the keys.

Also we stopped along the Syrian border and looked over where ISIS and their buddies are killing Christians, ate Druze bread sandwiches in the Golan Heights and visited some of the places were Jesus did his miracles along the shore of Galilee. Happy New Year from Israel

Boat Ride on Galilee, Mass at Peter's House, Steve's Conversion Story, Visitatim and Bethlehem

What a fun day with the families – kids climbing trees like squirrels to listen to my talks.

Great Mass on the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God where Jesus lived with Peter (homily here). Eating the fish Jesus ate and lots more – enjoy!

Slinging Stones Where David Killed Goliath, Mass in a Cave....

All day in Bethlehem. We took everyone shopping and then to Mass in a cave where the shepherds kept their sheep (homily here).

After eating swarma and falafil sandwiches (watch Fr. Gregory cooking falafils!) we touched the place where Jesus was born…

…and then had a great time in the Elah Valley where David killed Goliath.

We made slings and had tennis balls and everybody spent an hour practicing sling shooting and having a blast being the armies of Israel.

Fr. Matt Lays Down During Homily at Gethsemane, Salvation Story in 24 Minutes and more

Great day on Mount of Olives including Mass at Rock of Agony (homily here), Story of Salvation History in 24 minutes, Mount Zion, Tomb and more.

Screams on Camels, Dead Sea Mud (yuck!), Jordan, Jericho and more

Fun day. Mass at Notre Dame (homily here). Israel Museum, Jordan River, Jericho, Mud in Dead Sea, camel rides and more. Enjoy!

Early Morning Walk on Via Dolorosa, Mass at Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall and Dancing in Bethlehem

Our last day of pilgrimage was a fantastic conclusion to a deeply spiritual and whole lot of fun adventure. Enjoy today’s recap as we wake up at 5:00 AM to pray the Stations of the Cross before the streets of the Old City turn into chaos. Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (excellent concluding homily here).

Then we gave everyone some free time to enjoy Jerusalem before loading the bus with our luggage and heading to the Western Wall. We ended the day at the Grotto Bedouin Tent Restaurant in Bethlehem for great salads, grilled meats and most fun — DANCING!

About the Pilgrimage


Watch the entire video of this pilgrimage in Ultra HD Video:

This trip is sold out!

This was not your average pilgrimage to the Holy Land! We have taken many, many families to the Holy Land and this was a unique pilgrimage for families to go together. It was also for single people, couples — anyone who loves Our Lord and Lady!

This pilgrimage was in conjunction with Franciscan University of Steubenville with youthful Franciscan priest, Fr. Matt Russick.

This trip was strategically placed during Christmas break so that school-aged children could come along. Steve & Janet’s Holy Land pilgrimage are great for children, full of excitement like riding camels, floating in the Dead Sea, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.

Learning how to sling stones where David killed Goliath, carrying palm branches down the Palm Sunday Road and much more. And let’s just face it…kids like Steve’s adventurous exuberance.

Parents and grandparents pay tens of thousands of dollars to send their children to university where many will lose their faith. Why not spend a fraction of that to root them in the faith so they will stay faithful for a lifetime?