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Pilgrimage 2022 - From Ireland to the Holy Land

Day 8

This morning Monday, Day 8 of our Pilgrimage, we departed Jerusalem, to travel by bus to Jordan 🇯🇴
Prior to our departure from the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre, we were awarded a Pilgrim Certificate by the Ministry of Tourism of Israel 🇮🇱
We travelled north, towards Galilee and crossed from Israel into Jordan at the Sheikh Hussein Centre crossing.
On arrival in Jordan, we drove directly to Al-Maghtas, the Baptismal Site known as 'Bethany Beyond Jordan', where Jesus was baptised by his cousin John. 

Matthew 3: 13-17

Holy Mass was concelebrated on the banks of the River Jordan by Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly; Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam and Fr Ferghal Mc Grady,  Diocese of Down and Connor.
We pilgrims took the opportunity of renewing our baptismal vows, at this most sacred site.

After renewing our Baptismal vows, we drove directly to Mount Nebo, an elevated ridge approximately 710 metres above sea level.
Mount Nebo is mentioned in the Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land before his death.

Maccabees 2: 4-7

We were fortunate to have a very clear, cloudless, day and had an excellent panoramic view of the Promised Land, which we just spent 7 days exploring.
We entered the Memorial Church of Moses and viewed the 6th century Byzantine mosiac in the Diakonikon Baptistry depth colourful hunting and Pastoral scenes. 
Departing Mount Nebo, we drove to Amman, where we will be staying for the next to nights in the comfort of the Rosary Sisters' Visitation Home.
On arrival, we were greeted warmly by the Sister Antoinette Kalanzeh, Mother Superior; Sister Christina Masarweh, Saoud, the Reception  Manager from Lebanon and Beatrice, Receptionist, was visiting from Ghana.

Leaving Mt Nebo arriving at the Rosary Sisters Visitation Centre in Amman.

Day 7

On Sunday morning, we arrived by bus at the Church of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem.
We admired the beautiful panorama and had a group photograph taken. We continued then by foot downhill to the Church of All Nations, situated at the Garden of Gethsemene.
Holy Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam and Fr Ferghal Mc Grady, Diocese of Down and Connor.
Our Musical Director, Dame Mairéad Walls arranged for the signing of beautiful hymns, including Our Lady Queen of Heaven, the sound of which was enhanced greatly by the wonderful acoustic reverberations of the Church interior.
We then walked uphill to the nearby Cenacle 'Upper Room', the location where the Last Supper was celebrated by Jesus for his Disciples, the evening before His Crucifixion.
We were very fortunate to be welcomed by the Franciscan Friar Jakab Varnai, Custodian of the Church, who allowed us direct entry to the complex, on which is situated adjacent to the Upper Room, the Church of Dormition and Tomb of King David.

Leaving the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we took a bus to Bethlehem to visit The Creche of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, a refuge for abandoned children in the town where the Christ Jesus was born.
The Creche is less than a 15 minute walk to the Church of the Nativity. 
Here we were warmly welcomed back by Sister Denise Abu Haider, Superior in Charge; Mr  Iskandar Andon, the Social Worker and Mr George Tawil, the Administrator who coordinates and acknowledges all donations received.
Leading our pilgrimage group was Dame Veronica Holohan, DCHS who has an established relationship with the Creche, having collected substantial sums of financial donation through her volunteer knitting group in Dublin.
Iskandar, the Social Worker, briefed us on the current situation and allowed us the Blessed opportunity to greet the most recently arrived new born infant, who was abandoned 4 weeks ago.
As we toured the Creche we frequently met with Sr Denise, walking hand in hand with groups of toddlers with excited eyes and anticipated hope.
After a group photograph, we departed the Creche,  reminded how fortunate we are each day not to be have been abandoned without the daily love, touch and companionship of one's mother.

Departing the Creche is always emotional, but it helped that we were going straight to the special needs school Hogar Ninos Dios that welcomes disabled children in the Bethlehem area.
This home  like The Creche, is located just a 10 minute walk downhill from The Church of the Nativity.
Waiting to greet us was the Mother Superior, Sister Ronces, from the Sisters of the Word Incarnate, of Argentinan descent.
Sister Ronces invited us to meet with the residents and staff, with whom we bonded immediately or should I say they bonded with us instantly, high five ✋ smiles, hugs freely exchanged.
Sister Ronces briefed us on their desperate situation and need for financial support. 
The Staff, Children and Sisters literally pray each day for essential items:, food, personal hygiene materials, clothing, birthday presents, bills that need paying,
It was one of the highlights of our pilgrimage, to observe with humility and be grateful for what we have and what we can contribute towards.

Day 6

Following breakfast, we drove to Lion's Gate in the Old City where our tour guide, Bader Abu-George Rabadi, gave us a brief account of the city walls construction and design.
We then walked to the Church of St Anne, at the beginning of the Via Dolorosa, the site believed by the Crusaders to be the childhood home of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.
The grounds which contain the Church of St Anne and the adjacent two pools or Bethesda are under French jurisdiction. 
On arrival we were met by Fr David Williams a member of the Missionarirs of Africa, more commonly known as the 'White Fathers'.
Fr David, who hails from Dublin, Ireland gave us a tour of the grounds and explained the history and religious significance of the site.
It is believed to be the home of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the site where Jesus performed the miracle of curing the disabled man.
After visiting the Church of St Anne, built on the home of the Virgin Mary, and viewing the pools of Bethesda, at the beginning of the Via Dolorosa, we walked up the hill of the Via Dolorosa to the Church of Condemnation and Flagellation - the 2nd Station of the Cross
Holy Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; Fr Francis Mitchell Archdiocese of Tuam and Fr Ferghal Mc Grady, Diocese of Down and Connor.
Our pilgrimage director Dr Frank Hurl arranged for a cross to be presented to our pilgrim group to enable us re-enact the Passion of Christ Jesus.
We commenced the Stations of the Cross:
Station 1 ✝️ Jesus is condemned to death
Station 2 ✝️ Jesus carries his Cross
Station 3 ✝️ Jesus falls the first time
Station 4 ✝️ Jesus meets his mother
Station 5 ✝️ Simon of Cyrene helps to carry his cross
Station 6 ✝️ Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Station 7 ✝️ Jesus falls the second time
Station 8 ✝️ Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Station 9 ✝️ Jesus falls a third time
Station 10 ✝️ Jesus clothes are taken away
Station 11 ✝️ Jesus is nailed to the cross
Station 12 ✝️ Jesus dies on the cross
Station 13 ✝️ The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross
Station 14 ✝️ Jesus is laid in the tomb
Having completed the 14 Stations of the Cross, we were within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Time was allocated in our programme timetable to enable the Knights, Dames and for our friends to explore the various chapels and holy sites.
We descended the steps to the St Helena Chapel where the True Cross was found.

Day 5

Friday morning, early start.
Process through the streets of he Christian Quarter in our cloaks towards the Church of the Holy Sepulchre 
Along the way we met visiting pilgrims from Malta among whom was a prior and two Knights from the Lieutenancy of Malta - Deus lo vult.
Formal photograph on the steps adjacent to the Church entrance 
Solemn entry procession into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Blessed Sarcrament Chapel under the stewardship of the Franciscan Custos.
Holy Mass was concelebrated by Fr Ferghal Mc Grady, Diocese of Down and Connor; Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam and Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archdiocese of Cashel.
Following celebration of Holy Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we walked cloaked to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, where we were welcomed immediately by our long time, dear friend Abdel Maseeh Younan, Administrator in the Chancellor’s office of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
We were escorted by Abdel into the reception room of the Latin Patriarchate, for the arrival of His Excellency Bishop William Shomali, General Vicar and Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem and Palestine.
Abdel had diligently prepared the Certificates and Pilgrim Shells to be awarded on behalf of the Latin Patriarch, by Bishop Shomali, to first time pilgrim members of our Lieutenancy.
His Excellency Bishop William Shomali, General Vicar and Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem and Palestine entered the reception room of the Latin Patriarchate to greet the Lieutenant of Ireland, His Excellency Peter Durnin; Dames, Knights, Clergy and friends of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem who were making the pilgrimage.
The Pilgrim Shell was pinned by Bishop Shomali onto the cloaks of Dames and Knights who were travelling, for the first time, to the Holy sites in the Holy Land.
Bishop Shomali called then upon our Pilgrimage Director, Chevalier Dr Frank Hall KC*HS, to receive the Pontifical Benemerenti medal in recognition of his dedicated service to the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
The award was at the bequest of His Beatitude, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Patriarch of the Holy Land.
A certificate, confirming the award, was presented also to Chevalier Dr Frank by Bishop William.
A visit to the Monastery of Saint Savior, the headquarters of the Custody of the Holy Land, followed.
We were received warmly by Diana from the offices of the Custos, who escorted us to a reception room, where our dear friend Fr Fergus Clarke, ofm, awaited us.
Fr Fergus updated us on the important work of the Custody in continuing to maintain the Holy sites.
Br Ibrahim Faltas, Custodian Vicar, arrived then to present the Leo Xiii decoration and certificates to a number of our pilgrim members who were participating on this pilgrimage.
As you have seen, we've been covering a lot of ground, visiting the Holy sites, meeting with the living stones and viewing the projects that the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem finance.
To maintain our stamina, we are fortunate to have been able to enjoy delicious local Palestinian food in high quality restaurants, selected by our excellent tour guide Bader Abu-George Rafidi.
In Beit Sahour, we visited 'Tent Restaurant' a spacious, hygienic, atmospheric and welcoming establishment with great views and delicious food.
Having enjoyed a delicious lunch, what next for the pilgrims ?
Shopping and Sightseeing of course !
One can never have enough jewellery, hand made olive wood cribs, statues and Rosary beads.
Supporting the local Palestinian traders is a very important aspect of Pilgrimage.
The covid pandemic resulted in great hardship for the community and hospitality trade, which rely so much on the tourist economy.
A number of our pilgrims took time also to explore Bethlehem by foot to visit the Banksy inspired 'Walled-Off Hotel' and had an opportunity to view the separation wall which has a devastating effect on the Palestinian communities in West Bank.
Prior to departing Bethlehem after a very hot but enjoyable afternoon, we drove over to nearby Beit Jala to visit the seminary.
Waiting at the entrance to meet us was Fr Bernard Pogge, Rector, who warmly greeted our pilgrimage group.
Fr Pogge briefed us on the history ofctge seminary, how the seminary functions, the formation process, logistical and bureaucratic issues that arise daily.
We were briefed also on the history and role of The Rosary Congregation which establised the first school for girls and work tirelessly to maintain access to education for every female student.
We were introduced then to Mr Issa J. Da'boub, founder and General Director of The Ectumenical Centre for Pilgrims and Biblical Studies.
We had then a 10 minute orientation visit around the seminary and learned about the printing press situated on the seminary grounds, with which the Lieutenancy of Ireland has had a very long and fruitful association.
Prior to departing the seminary, Fr Pogge arranged for chilled juice drinks and grapes to be served to all, which was very much appreciated.

Day 4

This morning we depart the Magdala Centre and say 'Go dti an cheid uair eile - Until the next time'
Thank you Fr Juan Solano L.C. Director and Fr Eamon Kelly, Fr Donal Corry and Fr Donal O'Keeffe Irish born members of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ for your very warm welcome and blessing, as we depart to the West Bank parishes of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
View link below to join Fr Eamon Kelly L.C. on his 6am daily walk and reflection from the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Podcast can be viewed at any time.
This morning we visited the village of BURQIN, in the West Bank to enter the 4th oldest Church in the world, the Church of Saint George, under the control of the Greek Orthodox Church
It is built on the site believed to be the location where Jesus performed the miracle of healing the 10 lepers.
Of the 10 lepers healed, only one returned to thank Jesus for the cure.
He happened to be a Samarian
Luke 17: 11-19
During our visit to the Monastery of St George in Burqin, we met with the resident priest and sarcistan who explained the history of the Church and miracle of Jesus curing the 10 lepers.
We were invited to enjoy the tranquility and shade of the garden and provided with coffee and biscuits.
We send our blessings and prayers to all the members of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Following our departure from the Monastery of St George in Burqin, we travelled further south through the West Bank towards Nablus, to visit the Latin Church of Saint Justin in Rafidia.
The Latin Church was constructed in 1885 at the same place as a previous church, and named after Saint Justin who was born in Nablus in 110 and martyred defending rights and freedom in 165.
The Church has been identified by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem to be included in a substantial refurbishment project, to be funded by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
When we visited, we met with sister Emerenta, Holy Rosary Sister, who explained in more detail the major construction works required to maintain the Church and sustain the very small Latin Catholic community resident in Rafidia.
Population: 250,000
Christians 650
Latin Christians 200
Departing Rafidia, we drove south further deep into the West Bank to Birzeit, close to Ramallah.
We returned to visit Immaculate Conception Church of Birzeit Latin Parish and were welcomed warmly by Abouna Louis Hazboun; the school principal; two Junior Seminarians Rajae Musallam & Fadi Kamal Yasser; Sisters of the Congregation of the Rosary; teachers, staff and students of the kindergarten, primary and secondary schools.
We were entertained with a traditional Arab musical performance by primary school children.
We met with Adeeb Ibrahim, Head Engineer with The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem who gave us a very detailed presentation on the major refurbishment works recently undertaken in 2022, to repair the Church roof and interior walls, a project funded by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem -Lieutenancy of Ireland
We visited then the parish hall, adjacent to the church which had major refurbishment works undertaken in 2019, to facilitate its use as a multi-purpose hall, again funded by the Lieutenancy of Ireland.
Following inspection of the refurbishment works in Birzeit Latin Parish Church and Hall, we were invited to join Abouna Louis Hazboun in his private residence for a sumptuous lunch of local Arab food and we had an opportunity to taste the local beer and coffee.
During lunch, Abouna Louis gave us a very enlightening presentation and practical display of how the first Stone Age inhabitants of the Holy Land hunted and prepared food. It was a real honour to view the Stone Age artifacts on loan from Birzeit museum.
Following lunch, we were delighted to be served local ice cream which the Lieutenancy of Ireland had gifted to the school community
Departing Birzeit, we travelled then to nearby Taybeh, the only Christian village in Palestine with a 100% Christian population.
It is reported that Jesus visited Taybeh (Ephraim) many times, including after he raised Lazarus from the dead and prior to his Passion in Jerusalem
In Taybeh, we visited the Beit-Afram Elderly Home, managed by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, which provides housing accommodation and medical assistance for 20 Christian residents.
At the time of our visit we were honoured to meet with His Beatitude Emeritus Michael Sabbah; Bishop Emeritus Monsignor Kamal Hanna Bathish, Mother Superior Sister Maria Pia and Sister Maria Alma from the Sisters of the Word Incarnate, both natives of Argentina.
We were entertained by His Beatitude Emeritus Michael, who recalled fondly his many visits and interaction with the Lieutenancy of Ireland in times past.
We discussed also the fire safety alarm and water sprinkler works to be undertaken soon at the Home, a project identified by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and funded by the Lieutenancy of Ireland.
We were then introduced to the elderly residents, a number of whom spoke English; including Chevalier Roland Pickering, a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
Mother Superior Pia thanked the members of the Lieutenancy for their visit, financial support and gift of lunch for the 20 residents and staff.
After a long day visiting the 'living stones' in the West Bank parishes of Burqin, Rafidia, Birzeit and Taybeh we arrived in Jerusalem.
We are fortunate to be staying at the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre, for a few days.
After checking in, we went to the chapel on the first floor where Holy Mass was concelebrated by Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam, Fr Feargal Mc Grady, Diocese of Down and Connor and Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archdiocese of Cashel.
Today was the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary - September 8th - Happy Birthday Blessed Mother 
Following Holy Mass, we dined in Notre Dame restaurant.
His Excellency Mr Kyle O’Sullivan, Ambassador of Ireland to the State of Israel; His Excellency Mr Don Sexton, Ambassador of Ireland to the State of Palestine; Mr Sami El-Yousef, Chief Executive of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem were our honoured guests.
We were privileged to have them each brief us on the current political, economic and religious aspects pertaining to everyday life in the Holy Land.

Day 3

Following visits to the Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter and the Church of the Beatitudes, we drove to Tabgha traditionally considered to be the site where Jesus worked one his most sensational miracles: the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. 
Luke 4: 38-4
We proceeded then to Capernaum, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the home of St Peter where Jesus conducted his ministry.
Mark 6: 34-45
For lunch we ate Peter's fish in the David's Harp Restaurant on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
After lunch, we took a boat trip, a time of reflection, prayer hymns
The Gospel reading was performed by Chevalier Gerard Harbison
Mark 4: 35-41
Following the celebration of Holy Mass at the church of the Primacy of Saint Peter, we drove to the Mount of the Beatitudes to view the church where the eight Beatitudes are commemorated.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5: 1-13
This morning after a healthy breakfast at the Magdala Centre in Galilee, we visiting the Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter
Holy Mass was concelebrated by Fr Ferghal Mc Grady, Diocese of Down and Connor; Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam, and Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archbishop of Cashel.
Sacred hymns were arranged by musical directors Dame Mairéad Walls and Chevalier Damien Walls and sung by pilgrims on the shore of the Sea of Galilee

Day 2

This afternoon, our pilgrimage group travelled to Nazareth to view the Basilica of the Assumption, believed to have been built above the home of the Virgin Mary.
It is one of the holiest sites in Christianity.
It is here that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced 'Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!' And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus'.
Luke 1: 26-39
Holy Mass was concelebrated in the upper Basilica by Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archbishop of Cashel; Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam and Fr Ferghal Mc Grady, Diocese of Down and Connor.
This afternoon we visited the Franciscan Wedding Church at Cana, Lower Galilee.
It is dedicated to the weddings of Christianity. Its name commemorates the event of the Wedding at Cana from the Gospel of John
On the site, it is believed that Jesus performed his first miracle, by turning water into wine at the request or behest of his mother Mary.
John 2: 1-12
Today 6 married couples among our pilgrimage group, renewed their marriage vows and received each a certificate of marriage renewal.
Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archbishop of Cashel performed the renewal ceremony and blessings
Breakfast at the Magdala Centre. Refreshed after a good nights sleep.
Today we visit Mount Tabor, the location of the Transfiguration of Jesus.
'This is my son; my Chosen, listen to Him !
Like 9:28-37

Day 1

This morning 5th September 2022, the Lieutenancy of Ireland begins its Pilgrimage to the Holy Land 

We are blessed to return to the Land of Jesus and to meet again the 'living stones' in the parishes of the Latin Patriarchate.

Photos below show our Lieutenant His Excellency Peter Durnin, Spiritual Director Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Pilgrimage Director Dr Frank Hurl,  Knight and Dames from the Lieutenancy of Ireland prior to departure at Dublin Airport.

It is with great affection that the members of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem await the arrival of the Lieutenancy of Ireland Pilgrims.  

Photos below show Thomas Kilduff, KC*HS, Communications Officer for the Lieutenancy of Ireland with Bishop William Shomali, the General Vicar and Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem; Fr Elias Tabban, Endowments Officer; Fr Tarek Abu Hanna, Vice Rector Beit Jala Seminary; Mr Adeeb Ibrahim, Head of Engineering Department; Mr Sami El-Yousef, Chief Executive Officer; Mr George Akroush, Director of Projects Development Office; Sisters from the Oblates of Saint Martha with Fr David Meli, Chancellor and Fr Adib Ibrahim Zu'mot, former Chancellor L.P.J.

On the 12th September 2022, Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly,  Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly opened a new 4 classroom school extension at Mafraq Latin Parish in Jordan (Read more...)

If you are interested in joining the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, please email our Chancellor.

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