Pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Greece Offered in 2016

Mary Best Around the Province


Making a pilgrimage to a religious site like the Holy Land can have a profound effect on people looking to connect with their faith. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, who will lead a trip there in May, thinks that it’s not just the place, but the people who live there that can make such a journey an unforgettable experience.

Jacek, guardian of St. Camillus Friary in Silver Spring, Md., has a history of leading pilgrimages to the Holy Land. This trip, supported by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, will be his eighth. Its itinerary includes stops in Nazareth, Bethlehem, and the Garden of Gethsemane as well as other sites, from May 17 to 27, 2016.

He emphasizes the unique character of the HCEF pilgrimages to the Holy Land. “On our trips to Israel and Palestine, we meet some remarkable people who, in powerful ways, put into practice the Beatitudes by following in the footsteps of the Prince of Peace,” Jacek said. “One of the groups of people we meet are the students from Bethlehem University. They are Muslim and Christian Palestinians studying together at a Catholic school. It is inspiring to listen to their stories of the common struggles under the Israeli occupation and witness their strong commitment to an inclusive, just and non-violent future,” Jacek added.

“The pilgrimages I lead allow people to integrate the spiritual and devotional aspects of their trip to the Holy Land with what is happening there now, socially and politically. The pilgrimage is not just about the sacred past, but also about an encounter with the risen Christ present in today’s inhabitants of the Holy Land. These are the courageous men and women — Christians, Muslims and Jews — who witness to the power of non-violence, justice and reconciliation,” emphasizes Jacek.

“Our Church encourages people to embark, in this Year of Mercy, on a spiritual pilgrimage,” Jacek said. “Can you think of a better place to do that than the Holy Land, where our Christian faith has its roots?”

The trip, which can accommodate 15 to 20 people, costs $4,010 per person. There are still spaces available, but Jacek encourages people to sign up quickly since the registration deadline is quickly approaching. More information about the trip is available by contacting Jacek at jacek@hnpfriar.org or 301-502-7621.

Another trip to the Holy Land is being led by Julian Jagudilla, OFM, of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City. Participants will “walk in the footsteps of Jesus” from April 6 to 17, according to information in a recent parish bulletin. Details are available from Julian at 212-736-8500 ext. 377. In addition, space is still available on the May trip to the Holy Land being led by Joseph Juracek, OFM, parochial vicar of St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, N.J.

Friars and HNP ministries are offering several other travel experiences.

In the fall, Kevin Downey, OFM, pastor of St. Francis Church in Triangle, Va., will lead a pilgrimage to Greece. Participants in the Oct. 12 to 22 trip will visit many sites in places such as Athens and Corinth, and will take a three-night cruise of Turkey and the Greek Islands. The cost starts at $3,989 per person based on double room occupancy and round-trip airfare from Newark, N.J., Airport. For more information about this trip, contact Kevin at 703-221-4044 or at frkevin@stfrncis.org. Details can be found in an informational flyer.

Andrew Reitz, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City, will lead a jubilee pilgrimage to Assisi, Florence, Rome and Venice, Italy, in November.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish on Long Beach Island, N.J., is publicizing a pilgrimage to Fatima and Lourdes from April 24 to May 3. The cost of the trip, which currently has a waiting list, is $3,349 per person based on double occupancy rooms.

St. Francis has two other travel opportunities, including a cruise to Bermuda and Caribbean from April 22 to May 1 and an additional trip to Bermuda from May 15 to 22. Information about all of these trips and how to get on the waitlist is available by contacting Nancy at Home Town Travel at 609-597-5100 or hometowntravel@comcast.net.

The Franciscan Missionary Union is also offering trips to South Africa and Turkey in May. Information can be found on the recently redesigned FMU website.

— Mary Best is a Western New York-based writer and a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.

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