Pilgrimage to the Holy Land 13th – 22nd Sept. 2011

Turner’s Cross Parish Pilgrimage to the Holy Land 13th – 22nd Sept. 2011

Jerusalem Cross

50 Pilgrims under  the leadership and spiritual direction of Fr. Kerry Murphy-O’Connor, Fr. Liam O’Driscoll,
Fr. George Murphy & Fr. Martin O’Driscoll

Pilgrimage guide: Bassam Canavati from Bethlehem

Tuesday 13th Sept.
We depart from Cork Airport direct to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv. We are met by our guide Bassam Canavati, who accompanies us for the duration of our stay.  We sing “Jerusalem” as we get our first glimpse of the Holy City.  Our Hotel ‘The Olive Tree’ is a short distance from the Old City in Jerusalem

Wednesday Sept. 14th   After breakfast. we depart for the summit of the Mount of Olives, to the little Chapel of the Ascension – the Christian and Muslim holy site that is believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended into heaven. To the Church of the Pater Noster (Our Father).  On the way down the Mount of Olives we stop for Mass at the Dominus Flevit Church (built in the shape of a tear drop to commemorate Jesus weeping over The City of Jerusalem).  Outside the Church a panoramic view of the Old City, the Temple Area and The Dome of the Rock comes into view.  On to the foot of the Mount of Olives where we visit the Tomb of the Virgin Mary.  After lunch to Ein Karem to the Visitation Shrine – the home of Zachariah and Elizabeth, the birthplace of John the Baptist . On our way back to Jerusalem we visit Emmaus where Jesus joined the two disciples on the evening of his Resurrection.

Star marking the spot where Jesus was born

Thurs. Sept. 15th. We travel to Bethlehem passing through the checkpoint as we enter Palestinian territory – It is sad to witness the high security wall built around the town. First we visit the lovely Milk Grotto, tradition tells us it’s from here the flight into Egypt took place. We have Mass in the Nativity Basilica above the cave where Jesus was born. We visit the cave after Mass.  After lunch in Bethlehem, we progress on to the Shepherds’ Field where the shepherds heard the news of the birth of  Jesus on that first Christmas night. It feels a little strange to be singing Christmas carols with the sun shining simultaneously!Back to Jerusalem. After dinner, we journey to Gethsemane where the agony in the garden took place. We have a quiet Holy Hour.  It is a prayerful moving experience.  We see the olive trees in the garden and the rock of the agony before the altar in The Church of All Nation

Mount of Olives, Church of  All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane

Friday  Sept 16th A very early morning wake up call! We travel the short distance to the Damascus Gate and enter the Old City. On to the Church of the  Holy Sepulchre, and are privileged to have our Mass inside the tomb where the body of Jesus was laid on Good Friday, Onwards, up the steps to Mount Calvary  – we touch the rock on which Jesus was crucified and see the slab where the body of Jesus lay before burial. After a coffee break, we  walk through the narrow  crowded streets to the Church of St. Anne where Mary lived with parents Joachim and Anne.   In the same grounds is the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus cured the crippled man who could not get into the pool when the waters were stirred. Then to the Church of Flagellation where Jesus was scourged. We cross the court yard to the Church of Condemnation where he was condemned to death. From here we commence the Stations of the Cross and take turns to carry the big wooden Cross along Via Dolorosa stopping at each station along the way until we arrive back at the Holy Sepulchre.  After lunch in the Old City we walk to Mount Zion to the  Cenacle – The Room where the Last Supper took place. on to the Dormition Abbey where Our Lady may have died. We go under the main Church to the crypt and say the mystery of the Rosary -‘The Assumption’.  Then back to our hotel for a rest,  tired but happy after a long day of walking.

The Wailing Wall

Saturday  Sept 17th  We travel the short distance to the famous Ecole Biblique (where Stephen the first martyr is buried) for our Mass.   We meet  Fr. Kerry’s  brother Fr. Jerome who has lived, studied and taught here for the past forty seven years. He talks to us after Mass and answers our questions.
From there  to St. Peter’s Gallicantu, the house of Caiaphas where Peter denied Jesus. We see the dungeon where Jesus spent the night before he died. Outside we see the steps that Jesus would have walked on going from the Upper Room to Gethsemane on the first Holy Thursday night. We look out over the Kedron Valley, see the Potters Field where Judas went after betraying Jesus in the garden.  After lunch to Zion Gate, we walk to The Wailing Wall, where we put on our kappels (little white skullcap) and place our petitions in the crevices of this famous wall.

Sunday  Sept 18th    We say good bye to  Jerusalem and travel to Bethany (where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead) for Mass. On to Jerico we see Zacchaus’s Sycamore tree and Mt of Temptations, We continue driving along the shores of the Dead Sea to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  After lunch, many have a swim in the Dead Sea..  We travel north through the Judean Desert to our Royal Plaza Hotel overlooking the sea of Galilee  in Tiberias.

Monday Sept. 19th On our way to Nazareth we visit the ruins of the ancient Roman City of Sepphoris – a fascinating place. Joseph would have worked here and brought the boy Jesus with him on occasions.    On to Nazareth, where  the Holy Family lived, and Jesus grew up, preached, taught and worked. A visit to Mary’s Well, and the Church of Annunciation for Mass. We walk up the narrow street to the Synagogue  where Jesus, read from the scrolls of the Old Testament.   On to  Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding feast.  In the Franciscan Church we renew our commitment  (each of us had a part in this ceremony whether we were married, single, widowed or religious).

Renewal of Baptismal promises in the River Jordan

Tuesday  Sept 20th   After breakfast the short drive to the Sea of Galilee. It is in this area that Jesus spent most of his ministry. The boat trip on this beautiful lake is tranquil and  memorable.  When the engine of the boat is turned off, we reflect silently on what has been read (Matthew 8:23 / 14:22.).  It is a moment to remember.  The Irish Anthem is sung.  On to the Mount of Beatitudes, a visit to the Octagonal Church representing the eight Beatitudes over-looking the Lake. We have our Mass in the open air beside the church of the Primacy of St Peter where he was made Pope. Then to Tabgha, The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes – the feeding of the 5000, with the famous mosaic on the floor depicting basket of loaves and two fish. To Capernaum where Jesus called his apostles and worked many miracles. The Church here is built over the house of Peter where Jesus stayed during his ministry in Galilee.   We visit the ruins of the nearby Synagogue where Jesus taught.  After lunch we travel around the Lake to Yardenit Baptismal Site on the Jordan River where Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.  Many of us don the white robe and into the Jordan to renew our Baptismal promises. On our way back to our hotel we pass by Magdala , the birthplace of Mary Magdalene

Mount Tabor

Wednesday  Sept  21st  We travel to the top of Mount Tabor where the Transfiguration of Jesus took place before Peter James & John.  Our final Mass of the Pilgrimage in the   Church of the Transfiguration – this church like so many of the Holy Land Churches and sites are in the care of the Franciscans. We have a magnificent view across the plain of Jezreel.  Fr. Kerry thanks all who helped to make our time in the Holy Land such a memorable and enriching experience. Frank makes a presentation to our guide Bassam who was a truly wonderful guide and Thecla a presentation to our Driver. On our way back to Tiberias a short visit to the village of Naim, where Jesus brought the widow’s son back to life.  After lunch an opportunity to swim in the Lake or to do some shopping

Thursday Sept 22nd At the dawn we say goodbye to Galilee, onwards to Tel Aviv Airport and our flight to Cork.

Our Guide, Bassam Canavati

My sincere thank to  Bassam, Frs. Liam, George & Martin our cantor Mary and all who helped to make our Pilgrimage a truly memorable experience.
Fr. Kerry.