June 13, 2014

Archbishop Tobin to lead pilgrimage to Holy Land

A boat makes its way across the Sea of Galilee. Those who join the archdiocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land in February of 2015 will take an excursion in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. (Photo by Carolyn Noone)

A boat makes its way across the Sea of Galilee. Those who join the archdiocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land in February of 2015 will take an excursion in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. (Photo by Carolyn Noone)

By Natalie Hoefer

For all of the global traveling Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin did in his 18 years of leadership positions in Rome with the Redemptorist congregation, there is one particularly relevant place he has not been.

“I believe that I have visited 70 countries, but never had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” he said. “When members of the archdiocese asked me to consider leading such a pilgrimage in 2015, I thought it over and concluded that the time had come.”

“The time” is now set. Archbishop Tobin will lead a 12-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land on Feb. 4-15, 2015.

The pilgrimage to this region, the birthplace of the Christian faith, includes Mass each day and stops at sites in many towns and cities noted in the Bible, including Jaffa, Haifa, Capernaum, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Caesarea, Cana, Jericho, Emmaus, Jerusalem and others.

“All the time that you’re in the Holy Land, you’re aware that you’re where Christ was,” said John. F. Fink, editor emeritus of The Criterion and frequent pilgrim to the Holy Land.

“So whether you’re there where he was born, where he was crucified, where he rose, you know that this is where it was.

“Everything that you read in the Gospels just comes alive. Not only the Gospels come alive, but the Old Testament, too.”

This article highlights many—but not all—of the sites that pilgrims will have the opportunity to visit with the archbishop.

The journey begins after arriving in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Feb. 5. From the airport, pilgrims will head to Jaffa, an ancient seaport. The city is listed four times in the Old Testament and is the place where St. Peter resurrected the widow Tabitha.

After spending the night in the resort town of Netanya on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, the group will depart for Tiberias, the capital of the region of Galilee. The journey includes a stop at Caesarea, a town prominent in the early Church where St. Peter preached and St. Paul was imprisoned for two years.

Pilgrims will then ascend Mount Carmel, mentioned nearly 30 times in the Old Testament and the site of the origin of the Carmelite religious order.

With Tiberias serving as home base for two days and three nights, pilgrims will visit numerous sites of biblical note.

Among the experiences planned is a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, the body of water which figured so greatly in the lives of the Apostles both before and after becoming Christ’s disciples. Pilgrims will visit a church along the shores of this inland sea commemorating Christ’s call there to Peter to “feed my sheep,” a founding moment for the papacy.

Pilgrims will also visit towns along the shores of the Sea of Galilee: Capernaum, the center of Christ’s ministry for three years and the place where he called several of his disciples; Tabgha, where Christ multiplied the loaves and fishes; and the Mount of Beatitudes, where he delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

Pilgrims will travel to Cana, site of Jesus’ first public miracle in which he changed water to wine at a wedding feast. Appropriately, couples will have the opportunity here to renew their marriage vows.

In Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, pilgrims will visit the Church of the Annunciation, which commemorates the site where Mary said “yes” to the archangel Gabriel.

“[This is] the site where the Incarnation happened,” Fink noted. “[At the site of the Annunciation] it says, ‘here the Word was made flesh.’ I think Nazareth does it to make sure you think, ‘here is where [the Incarnation] happened, not in Bethlehem where he was born.’ ”

The pilgrimage includes a visit not far from Nazareth to Mount Tabor. On Mount Tabor, in the presence of the Apostles Peter, James and John, Christ was transfigured to reveal his divine glory and to make manifest the connection between the Old and New Testaments through the presence of Moses and Elijah.

As they make their way toward Jerusalem, which will serve as home base for more than half of the pilgrimage, pilgrims will have the opportunity to renew their baptismal vows at the traditional baptism site at the Jordan River, and then visit Jericho, which is more than 3,000 years old.

In this ancient city, known to have existed as far back as 1250 B.C., Joshua brought down the city walls with blasts of trumpets as described in the Old Testament book of Joshua. Christ himself journeyed through the town on his way to Jerusalem.

Pilgrims will visit the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus and the tomb of Lazarus in Bethany, where Christ raised Lazarus from the dead.

No trip to the Holy Land is complete without taking a dip in the Dead Sea, so salt-laden that swimmers can float on its surface with no effort. Pilgrims will have this opportunity before settling in Jerusalem for the remainder of the pilgrimage.

Jerusalem abounds with holy sites where Christ carried out his mission of salvation.

From visiting the Upper Room where Christ instituted the Eucharist during the Last Supper, to praying in the Garden of Gethsemane where he sweat drops of blood, to walking the Via Dolorosa—the “way of sorrow” along which he bore the cross to Calvary—pilgrims will have the opportunity to trace Christ’s Passion.

That journey ends on Mount Calvary at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which houses the rock upon which stood the cross of Christ, and is built over the tomb of his burial and Resurrection.

“Just the emotion you feel when you’re at the spot where Christ died for us can be very emotional,” said Fink of the church.

In the Old City of Jerusalem, pilgrims will also visit several sites that Christ himself would have seen, including the Western Wall—all that remains of the ancient Jewish Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.—and two pools where Christ performed miracles.

With Jerusalem still as home base, pilgrims will visit Ein Karem, the town where Mary proclaimed the “Magnificat” as she visited her cousin Elizabeth.

Pilgrims will also visit Bethlehem, where God deemed to have his Son born into the world. In Bethlehem, pilgrims will visit the Church of the Nativity, built by the order of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century over the traditional site of Christ’s birth.

On the last full day of the pilgrimage, Archbishop Tobin will celebrate an early morning Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The remainder of the day is unscheduled, allowing pilgrims time for personal prayer, reflecting on their journey and exploring the Old City of Jerusalem.

“For most of my life I have been fascinated by the meaning of the ‘Word made flesh,’ ” said Archbishop Tobin. “God took flesh—became one of us—at a specific moment in human history and really walked this Earth in a particular land. I believe that tracing those footsteps will help me be a more committed disciple of Jesus and a better shepherd for his people.

“I also recall the wonderful experience of the pallium pilgrimage last year, and the real bond of faith-filled friendship that was created among all of us who took part,” he added. “I am confident that the days in the Holy Land will unite my fellow pilgrims in a similar way.”

The cost per person is $3,260 for double occupancy, or $3,995 for single occupancy, plus airline taxes and fuel surcharge (currently about $700, but final cost will be determined at ticketing).

The cost includes roundtrip economy class airfare from Indianapolis to Tel Aviv, accommodations for 10 nights, hotel taxes and service charges, breakfast and dinner daily, sightseeing with a licensed Catholic guide, entrance fees, land transportation, gratuities and portage of one piece of luggage at airports and hotels.

Lunch, drinks, hotel extras and other personal expenses are not included.

(For more information, see the brochure or contact archdiocesan director of special events Carolyn Noone at 317-236-1428, 800-382-9836 ext. 1428, or by e-mail at cnoone@archindy.org. To make reservations, contact Tekton Ministries at 317-574-4191, 866-905-3787 or pilgrimage@tektonministries.org.)

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