I recently returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land: Israel and Palestine. I was accompanied by about 50 members of our parishes here in Toronto and Burlington, Ontario. Friar Maurice Richard and Kitty McGilly were co-leaders with me. We also had the privilege of Friar David Suckling’s company as well.
This was my third trip to the Land of Jesus and each time it is unique. One of the differences was that we actually stayed in Bethlehem and commuted to Jerusalem. It meant having to cross the border between Israel and the Palestinian Authority several times a day, but it was worth the solidarity we showed to the Palestinian Christians. The price we had to pay for this “solidarity” was having to stay at the Jacir Palace Intercontinental Hotel! It was so beautiful.
For me the highlights of the pilgrimage were walking along an ancient road between Galilee and Nazareth. It’s a valley surrounded by striking mountains and were you can view sheep and their shepherds, small farms and villages. This is what Jesus would have seen and it’s where he got a lot of the imagery for his parables.
The second highlight was meeting the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Our pilgrims had an audience with him and it was very moving.