St. Jude's Parish Pilgrimage to the Holy Land :: April 3rd to 11th 2008 Brid and Mary Flynn

Our group of 35 set off on Thursday 3rd April, we arrived at our hotel in Tiberias on the shore of Lake Galilee, this was a wonderful privilege to be able to look out your bedroom window and look across the Lake that we have read about so many times in scripture. After a few hours rest we met our guide Abraham who was with us for the week. Through his great insight and information given in a very Christ like manner our pilgrimage was made come very alive with every step. We had our "special bus" for the week.
On Friday 4th we had a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee, this was truly memorable to be able to experience the presence and peace of the Lord and to recall in scripture where He rebuked the winds and the sea and there was a great calm.
We visited Capernaum and Tabgha where the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes took place. We had the first Mass of our pilgrimage on the Mount of Beatitudes with the beautiful Sea of Galilee in them background. It was easy to imagine how the beautiful surroundings led to the sermon on the Mount.
On Saturday 5th we went to Cana, where couples renewed their Marriage vows. We visited the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth and St. Joseph's workshop.

On Sunday 6th, we said Goodbye to the Sea of Galilee and started on our journey to Jerusalem. On our way we visited the Jordan River where we were able to go for a little paddle! We also renewed our Baptismal Vows by the side of the Jordan. We then went on to a Kibbutz where we had lunch and a brief outline of the way of life there. From here we drove through some very interesting terrain in the Desert, where we saw Bedouins tending their flocks of sheep and goats.
On arrival in Jerusalem we first visited the place where Jesus ascended into heaven, we then had Mass in the small tear shaped church of Dominus Flevit (where Jesus mourned the destruction that was destined to follow). We visited the Garden of Gethsemane - this was very peaceful and again one could sense the presence of Jesus here, there are Olive trees over 2,000 years old still growing there which gave a real sense of unity with Jesus' suffering in the Garden.
On Monday 7th, we visited Bethlehem to Manger Square and the 3 churches - we visited the Grotto of the Nativity in which Jesus was born and also visited the Shepherd's Fields. We had a Holy Hour in the Gethsemane Church where the traditional Rock of the Agony lies in front of the main altar, We were again very privileged to able to gather around this Rock for our meditation on the Passion of Christ which was led very prayerfully by our leader Fr. Denis.
Tuesday 8th, today we visited the Upper Room - the Room of the Last Supper and where Jesus appeared to his disciples following his Resurrection and also where the disciples gathered with Mary when the Holy Spirit came upon believers who were gathered there on the day of Pentecost. We visited the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu (meaning 'the rooster's crow'), where Peter denied three times that he knew Jesus. This is where the 'House of Caiaphas was located and it is the site where Jesus was brought after he was taken into custody. We then went to visit Schindler's grave where we prayed for a short time and placed a stone on it. We visited Yad Vashem the Museum of the Holocaust - this was a very moving experience, particularly visiting the Children's Memorial. We then travelled on to Mary's Well where Mary stopped on her way to visit Elizabeth and we celebrated Mass in the Church of the Visitation.
Wednesday 9th - We visited the Old City where we went to see the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosquewhere Abraham our guide gave us a very informative talk on Islamic Law. Then we went to visit the Western Wall. We had Mass at the Chapel of the Flagellation where Jesus was scourged. Then on to visit the site of the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus cured the man of an illness which he had for 38 years. Following a lovely lunch in the Convent of the Sisters of Zion we walked the Via Dolorosa and then on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre located on the rock of Golgotha - where Jesus suffered and died and was placed in the Tomb and the site of the Resurrection.

Thursday 9th - We started our day in a lovely peaceful setting with Holy Mass outdoors in Gethsemane. Then on to Qumran, the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We visited Masada, taking a cable car to get there, which was a memorable experience and wonderful views of the surrounding area. We travelled back to the Dead Sea where some of the group went for a much anticipated swim and others just went for a little paddle!

Friday 10th - Today we went to Emmaus where we had a very good lunch in a convent and met a wonderful, cheerful Irish nun from Tipperary, Sr. Catherine. From here we made our way to Tel Aviv for our return flight home, very happy (if a little tired!) from a truly wonderful and unforgettable time spent following the steps of Jesus.