Reflect upon the experiences of Fr.
Tom, Fr. Antony, and the almost fifty other pilgrims from the parish
who journeyed to the Holy Land and followed in the footsteps of
Jesus. View their itinerary and read the daily updates from
John Vosilla took over 200 photographs which are
presented as a series of daily slideshows:
Nov 10/Wed – Depart East Meadow to
Nov 11/Thu –
Arrive Tel Aviv Airport/Galilee. On arrival at Ben Gurion Airport
in Tel Aviv, meet guide and transfer to Tiberias, located on the
shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Nov 12/Fri – Galilee.
Sail across the Galilee to Capernaum, center of Jesus’ ministry,
today containing the ruins of St. Peter’s house, an ancient
synagogue and Byzantine chapel. Visit the Church of St. Peter’s
Primacy and Tabgha, site of the Miracle of Loaves and Fishes. In
the afternoon, ascend the Mount of Beatitudes to celebrate Mass.
Nov 13/Sat – Galilee – Nazareth.
Today, visit Jesus’ boyhood town of Nazareth. Celebrate Mass at the
Basilica of the Annunciation, visit St. Joseph Church, Mary’s Well,
the Synagogue of the Holy Family. Free time to shop in the souk
(bazaar). Continue to Cana, site of Jesus’ first miracle, where
married couples can renew wedding vows and all can pray for parents
Nov 14/Sun – Galilee – Jericho.
In private taxis, ascend Mount Tabor for Mass where Jesus’
Transfiguration is commemorated. Stop along the River Jordan to
commemorate Jesus’ baptism. Continue to Jericho, the oldest city on
earth, located on a delightful oasis close to the River Jordan.
Overnight at a resort hotel.
Nov 15/Mon – Jericho – Jerusalem.
Ascend the Mount of Temptations by cable car. Visit Qumran (where
the Dead Sea Scrolls were found). Travel via the wilderness of
Judea, stopping at the Good Samaritan Inn up to the Holy City of
Jerusalem. On arrival in Jerusalem, celebrate Mass in the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre, site of Calvary and the Resurrection.
Nov 16/Tue – Jerusalem – Bethlehem.
In the morning, travel to Bethlehem, located just outside
Jerusalem. Celebrate Mass at Nativity Basilica and visit St.
Catherine Church and Shepherds’ Field. In the afternoon, see the
Model of the Holy City, a wonderful replica of Jerusalem to learn
about the layout of the city at the time of Christ. Travel to the
birthplace of John the Baptist and the site of the Visitation in Ein
Nov 17/Wed – Jerusalem.
In the morning, pray at the Church
of the Our Father. Walk along the Hosanna Trail, silently stop
where the Lord Wept over Jerusalem, remember Jesus’ Agony in the
Garden of Gethsemane and Church of All Nations (Mass). Pray at
Mary’s Tomb and see the Kidron Valley. In the afternoon visit St.
Peter Church at Gallicantu and see the fascinating excavation of
prison cells, dating from the time of Christ and Mount Zion, site of
King David’s Tomb, place of the Last Supper and Dormition Abbey,
where the Virgin Mary is believed to have ended her earthly life.
Nov 18/Thu – Jerusalem.
Pray the Stations of the Cross along
the Via Dolorosa to Calvary and the Tomb. Journey to the Jewish
Quarter to pray at the Western Wall, visit the Temple Mount. Pray
at the Sheep Gate site where St. Stephen was martyred and at St. Ann
Church at the pool of Bethesda. See excavations of “Lithostrotos”
Pavement and celebrate Mass at the site of Jesus’ scouring in the
Ecce Homo Convent. Festive farewell dinner this evening.
Nov 19/Fri – Jerusalem/Tel
free to rest. Check out of hotel ending pilgrimage with a visit to
the lovely Armenian Quarter of the Old City. Travel to Emmaus for
Mass at a site where the Risen Christ was recognized in the breaking
of the Bread. Dinner is provided en route to Ben Gurion Airport.
Check in for night flight home.
Nov 20/Sat – Arrive JFK/East Meadow
Notes from the Pilgrims
Kathleen Andersen sent notes and
photographs throughout the pilgrimage. The daily reports are
The photographs can be saved
to your computer or set as your "desktop," the background image that
appears on your computer screen. Simply place your mouse over
the image and right-click to see the options.
"Our final day in Israel included
visiting the church of St. Peter In Gallicantu, commemorating the
place where Peter denied Jesus.
"We descended into “the pit”, where
Jesus may have been held in solitary before his trial.
"While standing in this stark
underground location, we heard words from Psalm 88, 'I
am counted among those who go down to the Pit.'
As lights went out we experienced a
small bit of the darkness, loneliness and discomfort which Jesus
must have felt. This powerful experience will remain deep within
"Outside were the steps which Jesus
walked down to go to the garden of Gethsemane, and then walked up as
he was brought to trial. Again, the power of actually walking the
stairway which he walked brought deep emotional responses.
"We then traveled to the museum to
view the huge outdoor model of the city of Jerusalem at the time of
Christ. The picture you see is of this amazing model —you can get
an idea of its size by the size of the 3 people viewing it on the
far side. Viewing this at the end of our journey, we found we were
able to identify many of the sites thanks to our actual visits.
"This was also the location of the
exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We toured the darkened, well
cooled exhibit, but pictures were not permitted.
"We then traveled to Abu Gosh, one
of the possible sites commemorating the road to Emmaus. The town
was known as a resting place for the Ark of the Covenant for 20
years before King David brought the Ark to Jerusalem.
"We climbed the steps to the chapel
where we celebrated Mass, experiencing Jesus in the breaking of the
bread, and experiencing the hospitality of the Benedictine community
"After stopping for supper, we
headed to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, waiting for the plane to
bring us home. Everyone was exhausted, but so grateful. Having
been deeply touched by the heart-felt experiences we have shared,
the desire is to remember these blessings and to share them.
"After a long but smooth flight to
JFK, we arrived back at St. Raphael’s, happy to be home safely, and
anticipating with great hope as our journey continues."
"Today began early (5:30
a.m.) We walked the Via Dolorosa, following the steps of Jesus as
we prayed the Stations of the Cross. The numbers of people in the
alleyways were much lower at that time.
"Taking turns carrying the
cross and reading the prayers enabled all of us to be active
participants in this ritual. After the tenth station, we entered
into the church of the Holy Sepulchre to pray the remaining
"Arriving so early, we were the
second group on line to enter the tomb where the body of the
crucified Jesus was laid. It’s necessary to bend down to enter the
cave, which could only accommodate 4 pilgrims at a time. Though the
visit inside the tomb had to be brief (long lines had already formed
by 8:30 a.m.), the experience was quite moving.
"We were very fortunate that
while we were in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, our guide was
able to arrange for us to celebrate Mass at the nearby altar of Mary
Magdalene. The nearness to the altar, to the tomb, and to one
another made this a wonderfully intimate and special celebration
with the Lord
"Later we gathered outside the
location of the Upper Room, where we heard again the story of the
Last Supper, when Jesus gave us the gift of himself in Eucharist.
We are called to follow Jesus’ example, washing the feet of one
another, being ministers of service as he was.
"We entered the Upper Room
(it’s not the original, being re-constructed later) and found no
altar table. We did see the symbol of a pelican, who will feed her
young with her own self, as Jesus feeds us, and connected with the
pelican window in our own Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
"The last stop of the day was
at the Western Wall of the Jewish quarter, sometimes called the
Wailing Wall. We heard some of the history of the wall, saw the
many people praying and chanting, witnessed a bar mitzvah
celebration, and went to pray at the wall ourselves. The book
containing the prayer intentions written by our parishioners was
held up to the wall.
"Back at the hotel we were able
to go up to the roof for another panoramic view of the city. We
again shared our experiences of the day and of the pilgrimage — at
least to a degree. We all find that we’re almost on sensory
overload and find it hard to put our feelings into words. It’s too
soon. Like pictures taken with “old fashioned” film, we need time
in the quiet of the dark room to allow the images to develop and be
revealed to us in ways we can share.
"It’s been amazing. Our group
has bonded in special ways which we anticipate nurturing. We’ve
feasted on a banquet beyond our imaginations.
"Tomorrow we go to Emmaus, and
to the airport, and head for home. This is the last posting until
we arrive back home. More will be posted during the coming week.
We’ve prayed for you every day and have felt your prayers with us.
Please continue those prayers for a safe journey home."
"We began the day with a
panoramic view of the many places we would be visiting. Peter, our
guide, pointed out the many sites, explaining their history, dating
them chronologically, sharing his amazing knowledge of all the
faiths and cultures over the centuries. We were all struck by the
distances involved between places. We then got to experience those
distances for ourselves as we walked—and walked.
"One of the stops along the way
was the Church of the Pater Noster—Our Father. Again, this prayer
which Jesus taught us was displayed on the walls in languages of
"A highlight for us was
encountering our guide Peter’s brother, also a guide, who prayed the
Lord’s Prayer for us in Aramaic, the language which Jesus spoke. An
amazing experience. Inside we also sang the Our Father in English
"We also visited the Garden of
Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed, sweating drops of blood. We were
able to celebrate Mass in the church, surrounding the stone. We
brought all our own sufferings, those of our families and friends,
and the sufferings of all our world to the stone, praying with
"Another stop was at the Pool
of Bethesda, where we listened to the scripture reading of the man
crippled for 38 years, whom Jesus healed at this site. We prayed
for healing for all, ritualizing the prayer with a laying on of
"We visited the place where
Jesus was tried, praying for all in prison or on trial, especially
those unjustly accused.
"Walking back to the hotel, we
journeyed through the crowded indoor market place, and the equally
crowded outdoor market place.
"Once again back at the hotel,
we reflected on our day’s journey, sharing thoughts and emotions.
This continues to be an overwhelmingly blessed time for us all."
"We began with a visit to
Nativity Basilica, bending to enter through the 'Door of Humility.'
"Entering the place designated
as the birth place of Jesus, touching the star inlaid in the ground
and the manger area brought great feelings of wonder, awe and
intimacy with the Word made flesh.
"We passed through the Church
of St. Catherine. This is the location of the broadcast of the
celebration of Midnight Mass from Bethlehem.
"We then descended into the
chapel of St. Jerome, translator of Scriptures. In his chambers an
area is reserved for the celebration of Mass by pilgrimage groups.
We heard the Christmas scriptures proclaimed, reflecting on how we
continue to give birth to Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Carol Ann
and Bill renewed their marriage vows during Mass.
"Singing Christmas carols at
Mass in Bethlehem was a memorable experience, We all know that this
year’s celebration of Christmas will touch us in new and
"In the afternoon we spent time
at the area called Shepherd’s Fields. There were many beautiful
scenes outside and inside. A dome was built with the center window
designed to allow the star light to shine through. Half the
surrounding angels look up with the other half looking down,
representing the divinity and humanity of Jesus.
"At the place of Mary’s
visitation to Elizabeth some of us sat in front of the words of the
Magnificat, displayed in 153 languages.
"We went on to visit the
birthplace of John the Baptist, where we gathered in an outdoor
alcove to pray a decade of the rosary.
"Later we were given a
wonderful presentation about the Shroud of Turin. We again gathered
to share our thoughts and reflections.
"Bassam, our driver, and Peter,
our guide, been absolutely wonderful, They have added immensely to
our understanding of the history of this land and the history of
faith. And they’re a lot of fun!
"There are so many more
pictures and experiences, but they cannot all be shared at this
time. By the end of each day we feel overwhelmed with an abundance
of new amazing graces."
"Our itinerary varied a little
today. We began by visiting the Church of the Good Shepherd, the
local parish for the small number of local Catholics in Jericho.
The percentage of Christians remaining in this area is small, yet
they have a vibrant community.
"We celebrated Mass in the hall of
the parish, hearing the gospel of Jesus seeking Zacchaeus and
Zacchaeus seeking Jesus.
"We later saw a sycamore tree, the
kind Zacchaeus climbed. The landscapes have been amazing — from
desert to lush gardens—and also trees, bushes and flowers blooming
in the midst of desert sands.
"Our next stop was the Mount of
Temptations. The calm, level, peaceful entrance hid the amazing
journey before us.
"We traveled by cable car to a
stop which was not the end, but rather the beginning of a long,
long, long, climb to the Mount of Temptations, commemorating the
temptations of Jesus by Satan in the desert after 40 days of
"The desert scene became so
real — from the mountains of sand and rock, to the dry, weary land,
to the heat. The temperature was in the 90s, making our journey
upward quite an experience.
At the top we entered the
monastery which houses a rock on the site of the temptations. There
was an opportunity to kneel at the rock, to speak privately with
Jesus about this experience.
journey down the mountain seemed more challenging than the ascent!
We again took cable cars down, and returned to the bus. Fr. Antony,
however, chose a different mode of transportation. That picture
will be posted when we return.
"We traveled on to the Dead Sea
where many of us donned bathing suits and went slip-sliding into the
muddy salt waters of the Dead Sea and experienced the wonder of
floating — like being held in God’s hands. The shouts and laughter
of the many nationalities of people enjoying this experience was
great. These pictures, however, will never be posted!!!
ended the day with another gathering to share our thoughts and
reflections, once again amazed and grateful for the wonder of this
"Today we did
some traveling. The morning began with a trip to Mt. Tabor, site of
the transfiguration of Jesus. The bus brought us up the mountain to
a certain point, but then we had to take taxis the rest of the way.
Why? Because the road going is quite curvy and steep - to say the
very least!!! It was an 8 minute experience! But was it ever worth
it! There are beautiful gardens
a main chapel depicting Jesus and two side chapels depicting Moses
and Elijah. .
Mass outside in a grotto. We sang 'In This Place' -- and the
presence of Jesus was truly felt in this place, as he invited us to
open ourselves us to knowing that we are God's beloved -- and
allowing this to move us beyond ourselves, sharing God's
transfiguring love with all.
"A long and
'interesting' bus trip followed as we headed to Bethlehem. Passing
through the security checkpoint from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and back
was necessary. All went very smoothly, but it's sobering to
recognize the realities of life in this area. No pictures taken
"We spent some
time in Bethlehem -- shopping! We will return again tomorrow to
several places. There are so many tourists, our guide has to make
appointments at each place. We've seen and heard joyful voices from
bus ride through varied terrain -- crowded cities, small villages,
mountains of desert sand -- some saw camels. We arrived at our
hotel for the night, and were welcomed with glasses of juice
Our guide and
driver keep reminding us to drink lots of water during the day.
Dehydration can happen quickly.
head back to Bethlehem and Jerusalem and to the Dead Sea. Our hotel
has a small pool with water from the Dead Sea. A few of us dipped
our feet in as a prelude to floating tomorrow!
and a quick sharing of thoughts, we said good night, very tired, yet
busy day and warm day. A visit to the
Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by
John the Baptist.
renewed our Baptism promises and were each
sprinkled with water from the Jordan.
headed to Nazareth where we visited Mary's
well, a 'church synagogue,' walked on
streets of stone through a long, long,
narrow, narrow, winding, winding and very
crowded market place, finally arriving at
the Basilica of the Annunciation.
celebrated Mass in the basilica, whose altar
stands in front of Mary's house, where the
angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she had
been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
lunch we went on to Cana, the site of Jesus'
first miracle, changing water into wine. In
one of the chapels the couples on our
pilgrimage renewed their wedding vows.
gathered in the evening to share our
reflections on the day's experiences. Among
people, and such joyfulness.
Connecting with the humanness of Mary
of our own annunciations
insights into familiar scripture stories
Specialnness of renewing vows at Cana
to be present to those couples
Overwhelming -- so much to reflect on --
needing time to develop the images
Everything is a highlight!!"
"A busy and
beautiful day. Temperature in the 80s. We
started out at Tabgha, site of the miracle of
the loaves and fishes, listening to Peter,
our guide, provide background for this
Scripture passage and sensing the wonder of
being present with Jesus then and now.
"We moved on
to the shores of Lake Galilee, visiting the
church of Peter's Primacy and being able to
walk to and in (if not on) the water.
"Then on to a
wooden boat to sail on Sea of Galilee. The
waters were calm; the sun shining brightly.
Hearing the stories of Jesus and his
disciples on the water while actually being
on the water was amazing. We had some quiet
time, then joined our voices in singing 'Be
Not Afraid.'. We also prayed for peace,
singing 'Let There Be Peace On Earth,'
followed by 'How Great Thou Art.'. What an
extraordinarily touching, emotional and
us to a Lebanese restaurant where almost
everyone enjoyed St. Peter's fish -- bones
and all! We then continued on to Capernaum,
visiting an ancient synagogue and St.
Peter's house. The afternoon ended with a
visit to the Mount of the Beatitudes. We
celebrated Mass outdoors listening to the
sounds of nature which nurtured Jesus.
Singing 'Rejoice and be glad! Blessed are
you! Holy are you!' on the mount, right at
the shore of the Sea of Galilee, was deeply
"Many of us
gathered after supper at the hotel to share
some reflections on our experience of the
day. We echoed and re-echoed one another's
feelings of wonder, awe and gratitude,
recognizing it will take time - a lifetime -
to allow this experience to touch every nook
and cranny of our lives. We are grateful."
"We arrived safely! Had a smooth
10 hour flight - with some "comfort challenges!" Then a 3 hour bus
trip to Tiberias. Checked in at the hotel with a nice buffet
supper. Took a few pix, but we're TIRED. Hoping that God's
blessing of sleep will transform bleary-eyed travelers into
wide-eyed pilgrims! Tomorrow, after a 6:30am wake-up call, we
explore places in Galilee where Jesus ministered."
Page Updated November 24, 2010
© 2003-2010 Parish of St. Raphael. All Rights Reserved