‘Into the Desert’- Holy Land Pilgrimage
On January 11 2014, 43 Pilgrims from the Sydney Archdiocese began a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Dr. Dan White and Bishop Comensoli led the group together with Harvest Pilgrimages. Our group was a mixture of beginning teachers and experienced teachers, along with RECs, APs and principles and some CEO advisers. However once on pilgrimage, we were all simply pilgrim friends.
As the title suggests we began our journey in the desert, making our way to the top of Mt Nebo. Just as Moses had done before us, we looked out on the Promised Land, the land that we would spend the next 18 days exploring.
It was on Mt Nebo that we celebrated our first Mass together as a pilgrim group. We would have the opportunity to do this each day of the pilgrimage. It was an opportunity to celebrate and be nourished by the Body of Christ. Bishop Peter would share many words of wisdom with the group and touch on teaching moments that the group would be able take back to their classrooms. Our liturgies were enriched each day by our wonderful group of singers and musicians (or as they named themselves ‘Birds of Pray’).
Our journey traced the footsteps of Jesus. We explored the land where Jesus ate, walked, preached, lived, performed miracles, died and rose from the dead. While visiting places such as Bethlehem, the Sea of Galilee, Caesarea Philippi, Jericho and Jerusalem we had the opportunity to listen its archeological, historical and biblical significance. In each of these places we took time to pray and listen to the whispers of God.
Another significant part of our pilgrimage was the immersion opportunities the group got to experience. Some of the places we included, Bethlehem University, The Holy Child Orphanage, Ephpheta Centre and the House of Grace. We also had the opportunity to listen to two brave fathers, from the Bereaved parents group, speak about the loss of their children as result of the conflict in this land and there goal to work together for peace. These experiences helped us connect further with this Holy Land; especially with the many people we met who are living the Gospel each day.
As we made our way home, in awe of everything we experienced and still trying to process all that had happened over the past 18 days. The words of John’s Gospel are left firmly in our minds:
‘He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” … And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep’.