See Galilee and live! Shot of the Sea from Capernaum (Christine Hogan)
BY CHRISTINE HOGAN
CathNews Subscribers will already know the news that the keen-eyed CathNews website visitor has also now gleaned... we are off on Pilgrimage to the Promised Land and the Holy Land again in November!
Last year, for our first Pilgrimage, we took a group of 32… and the reaction to our trip was tremendously positive. 'Wow! Wow!' was the reaction of one of our group, Mary Richardson from Townsville, as we said good bye at Sydney Airport after 17 days together.
There were some challenges – and some areas in which the Pilgrimage could be improved for our group. I know that because I sent out evaluation forms in the week after we returned (and again at the end of January). We asked our pilgrims to be frank because we want to make the experience for our future CathNews pilgrims as complete and faith-filled as possible. How could we improve unless they assisted us by telling us what didn't work?
The comments were all read, and many of the suggestions have been taken on board. For the 2013 Pilgrimage, that means an extra day on the road. We discovered last year that jetting people to Amman and then putting them on a bus to Petra, walking them around there for a couple of hours, putting them back on the bus, going back to Madaba and dinner) was fine on paper but too challenging in reality.
So this time, we will fly to Jordan, stay in a four-star hotel in the city for two nights, go down to Petra the day after we arrive, and spend more time in 'the rose red city half as old as time.' The next day, we will fly to Tel Aviv, and go up to Jerusalem in time for a late lunch.
We have also looked at the days we spend outside Jerusalem, and I am negotiating to have a Mass said either at Capernaum in the open air chapel (an image of a view of the Sea of Galilee from the chapel accompanies this Blog) or at the Mount of the Beatitudes.
Some of the things which were originally in the program last year were discovered to make the days too long – particularly in winter when we were on the road most days at 8, and coming home when the light faded at about 4.15pm.
Once again, we are spending 13 nights at the beautiful Notre Dame of Jerusalem – a place which has the ‘Wow!’ factor all by itself. We loved living there for nearly two weeks, with Adoration and Mass every night at 5.30 and 6.30 pm, its wonderful staff, quiet halls and fantastic location. Just across the road, through the New Gate, and you are inside the Walled City itself… and the juxtaposition of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is always, always compelling.
One of our Pilgrims took himself into the Old City on consecutive Fridays – he could not get enough of the Muslims going to mosque at 1pm, and then the tide turning as Christians prayed the Stations of the Cross from the top of the Via Dolorosa from 3pm, and then Jews flooded down through the city to the Western Wall in time for sunset and the start of the Jewish Sabbath.
He was absolutely transported by the experience. So much so, he is coming again this year. Two days after the Pilgrimage was released to the CN Subscribers, he was in the office with his booking form and his deposit… couldn’t take the risk of missing out, he said!
If you think you might want to come with us this year, and would like to know something of what happened last year, you can have a look here at
We have made other changes in the program, too, to reflect our Pilgrims’ comments, and needs. One of the most important is that we will be taking a dedicated tour manager, who will manage the day to day travel needs of our Pilgrims… so there will be three of us, in total, guiding our travellers through the experience which mixes the lived experiences of others, including Palestinian Christians, Jews, Muslims, and a roster of wonderful guests speakers every third night or so.
Tour historian Dr Brian Brennan and I would be delighted to have you join us on a trip which changed the lives of many of our original group… as pilgrim Julie Borger wrote, Julie Borger: ‘We came home feeling really blessed having had such a wonderful time in that special place. Thank you for all your hard work in putting the tour together.’
(If you are wondering about why we went to our Subscribers first, well, that is one of the benefits of belonging. The Subscribers are alerted to everything we are doing – including the Social Media Theory and Practice training day we are conducting on Friday in Sydney – first. And given they are such a responsive group, they generally register for our events very quickly.)
Christine Hogan is the Publisher for the faith-based publications for Church Resources, and moderates the discussion boards of CathNews.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.