March 2019 Holy Land (SOLD OUT)

10 March 2019 to 19 March 2019



El Al and United Flights Arrived in Israel!

Everyone arrived at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv without incident, no lost baggage and everyone excited and in good shape. We are now in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. We celebrated a devout Mass on the shoreline and shared a sumptuous  dinner. Everyone is now in bed getting rested up for our first full day tomorrow! Glad you can join us!

Fishing Boats, Mass Atop Mt. Tabor, Wedding Vows Renewed in Cana, Nazareth

Stunning sunrise with fisherman coming in from the night. Mass on top of the Mountain of Transfiguration before renewing our wedding vows in Cana of Galilee. From there to a great lunch in Nazareth and visiting the Church of the Assumption where Mary heard the words “Hail Full of Grace…” (Homily here.)

People think the Incarnation happened in Bethlehem but God became flesh in Nazareth! At the declaration of the angel and the Fiat of Mary the cells in her womb were both human and divine. God had become man!

Free time in the afternoon to swim, meditate on Scripture, share a bottle of wine looking out over the sea or taking a nap. Some people walked through Tiberias for a nice stroll along the sea. Join us again tomorrow.


Beatitudes for Mass, Caesarea Philippi, Druze Lunch, overlook Syrian Border, and much more

Pilgrims love starting the day on the tranquil Mount of Beatitudes where we have an outdoor Mass overlooking the Sea of Galilee (homily here). Time to pray and wander through the gardens. Both of our priests told their vocation stories on our drive north to the Lebanese border where we stop at Caesarea Philippi and talk about Jesus giving Peter the keys and making him the rock.

Then we have a Druze bread sandwich, a simple lunch, because we have a huge fabulous dinner ahead. We stopped to overlook the border with Syria and we talked about the situation in the Middle East as we prayed for the Christian people while looking into the war torn country.

From there to the Multiplication of Loaves Church and Primacy of Peter. A bit of free time at the hotel before going to one of the finest gourmet restaurants in Israel named the Magdalena.

From Galilee to Jerusalem: Mass at Capernaum, Boat Ride, St. Peter’s Fish and Visitation

Big transition today from Galilee to Jerusalem. We started the day with a wonderful Mass at St. Peters House in Capernaum where Jesus lived during his three years of ministry (homily here). I gave my talk “Defending the Eucharist.“

Then we saw the ancient boat that was discovered from 2000 years ago before getting on a real boat and going out on the sea of Galilee. Lunch of St. Peter’s Fish before driving to the Church of Visitation where Mary visited Elizabeth after walking 100 miles. We settled in for dinner and bed at the Notre Dame Hotel in Jerusalem.

Entering a Different World, Bethlehem! Join Us All Day for a Depth of History and Dancing

Today was difficult because the Jerusalem Marathon was taking place and all the streets are blocked off starting at 5:30 AM. To get out of Jerusalem we had to leave at 5 AM which added to the adventure.

Join us as we go over the Mount of Olives where I give my talk on the History of Salvation from Adam and Eve until Today“ and then down through the Valley of Death to Bethlehem. Mass in a cave (homily here). Lots of adventures ending with eating the roasted Passover Lamb and dancing.



Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, Mass at Gethsemane, Holy Shroud Exhibit

We intended to start the day with the OUR FATHER in the place where Jesus taught the disciples to pray it. Pater Noster is a church on top of the Mount of Olives from where Jesus also ascended into heaven. However, due to conditions out of our control like huge traffic jams and trash in the street, we are unable to get our bus through the narrow streets today to see this church but we discussed it and prayed the Mystery of the Ascension while we are on the bus getting disentangled from the traffic jam.

Mount Zion is next for the Upper Room, the Church of Dormition and Peter in Gallicantu. This is where Peter denied Jesus and where Jesus was kept in prison over holy Thursday night.

Lunch at a Jewish Kibbutz, seeing the new US Embassy, Holy Shroud Exibit, Mass at Gethsemane (homily here) and more.

Fun Day: Israel Museum, Jordan River, Jericho, Wumran, Dead Sea Float & Camel Rides!

This is the fun day. Mass at Notre Dame (homily here), museum, Jordan River…

…culminating with camel rides, floating in the Dead Sea and dinner on the rooftop of Jerusalem . Enjoy!

The Passion of Jesus: Via Dolorosa, Calvary, High Mass at the Tomb and more

We had to start very early this morning because the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is full like sardines during the day. Smart like a fox!

We walked the Via Dolorosa praying the Stations Of the Cross, climbed Mount Calvary and touched the cross where the blood dropped, took a tour of the church and then had High Mass in front of the Tomb before entering the tomb. Gospel and Homily here. Another amazing day with a lot of other things too. Enjoy!


About the Pilgrimage

This is a one-bus pilgrimage. It is already sold out.

We will be joined by good Catholic folks from across the country and our chaplain will be Fr. Stephen Graeve, from the diocese of Lincoln Nebraska. Everyone is welcome!  (We had planned to have Fr. Steve Thomlison be our chaplain but we had to make a change. For more info, read below.)

Steve and Janet have partnered with the same Catholic Nazarene guide for all their trips over the last decade. Amer Shehadeh is a practicing Catholic and a walking encyclopedia. We consider him the finest Christian guide in the Holy Land–and we are not alone in that assessment. Having a Christian guide is very important.

Steve and Janet Ray plan and execute every aspect of this trip–personally. They are with you every step of the pilgrimage.

You’ll enjoy Steve and Janet’s trusted hotels and delicious meals including some amazing dinner experiences away from the typical hotel buffets.

Wine is provided with all dinners along with a wide range of cuisines to experience the Holy Land to it’s fullest.

You will receive their 110-page color handbook, daily YouTube videos so your family and friends can join you virtually every day and a fully edited movie of your trip upon your return home.

Steve personally teaches at the holy sites and shares experiences from over 150 previous trips to Israel and other biblical lands since 1995. We do everything we can to support the local Christians who only make up 1.5% of the population.

Daily Mass at the holiest sites and we pray every Mystery of the Rosary where it took place. Also, pray the Stations of the Cross on the way to Calvary and Mass at the Tomb.

Steve and Janet invite you to join this first-class and intimate pilgrimage. You will be with like-minded Catholics from around the country for a marvelous pilgrimage through the land of our Lord and Our Lady.

Our priest will be  Fr. Stephen Graeve.  Everyone loves his fine homilies, devout Masses, personal and jovial manner.

Concerning the change from Fr. Thomlison to Fr. Graeve…

Dear March Pilgrims to the Holy Land:

We are happy to inform you that the one-bus Holy Land pilgrimage in March 2019 has been sold out for some time. This is a perfect time of year for touring Israel and we expect a marvelous pilgrimage.

Janet and I want to update you one change that has just taken place. Originally our pilgrimage chaplain was to be Fr. Steve Thomlison who was our chaplain in Germany in 2017. Fr. Steve did a fantastic job for us. After that trip we invited him to our chaplain in March. 2018.

However, as of last week, he was forced to resign from his two parishes at the dictate of Bishop James Conley of Lincoln Nebraska. The stated reason was a “past incident in the military that was a concern to me and the Diocesan Review Board.” He is also said to be going through counseling for PTSD.

He told me he still wanted to be the chaplain for the trip but I told him under the current situation that would not be possible and I dismissed him as chaplain. Quality chaplains are essential on a pilgrimage and one who is required to resign from his parishes and who is under scrutiny by their Bishop will not be allowed to work with us on a pilgrimage. We will pray for him and hope the matters are cleared up quickly.

The good news is we were able to replace Fr. Thomlison immediately by another young priest from Lincoln who was highly recommended by one of our regular pilgrimage chaplains Fr. Scott Courtney who has traveled with us on thirteen pilgrimages.

I checked out Fr. Stephen Graeve and talked with him extensively last weekend. He has never been to the Holy Land — having had two trips canceled out from under him. We are happy to help him visit Israel for the first time. His parents attended one of our Holy Land pilgrimages a year ago and they are overjoyed their recently ordained son will get to visit the Land with us.

Fr. Gaeve is great with people and very devout. He is overjoyed to join us and we hope you will all welcome him with open arms. Thanks for understanding.

Steve and Janet Ray
Footprints of God Pilgrimages