June 10, 2022

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Experiencing Jesus’ life from conception to crucifixion

Kimberly PohoveyIt’s hard to articulate, much less wrap my head around the fact, that less than two weeks ago I was literally walking in Christ’s footsteps in the Holy Land. Since my return, friends, family and colleagues have asked me for highlights or my favorite part. I was privileged to experience Jesus’ life, from conception to crucifixion. How do you boil that down into a favorite memory?

First, let me say a few words about the folks on the pilgrimage. I was blessed to travel with four priests and 10 young men from Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. I was one of eight laity who accompanied them. To see the Holy Land through the eyes of our seminarians was to experience their own reverence, curiosity and total openness to serve God’s will.

I was again reminded of the hope I have for the future of our Church if these are the type of men who are ordained priests. I thoroughly admired and enjoyed the company of the priests at Bishop Bruté—Fathers Joseph Moriarty, Andrew Syberg, Daniel Bedel and Jonathan Fassero. I knew they would deliver amazing homilies at our daily Masses, and yet, I was surprised that each homily topped the one from the day before.

Amid the amazing setting of the Holy Land, I found their interpretation of the Scriptures at each site profound. And it was an honor to get to know my fellow lay traveling companions—what a fun bunch.

During our 10-day pilgrimage, we were on the go all day, every day, so you can imagine the number of sites we visited. While each was historically and/or spiritually meaningful, I’ll share a few that significantly impacted me.

The first was the day we took a replica wooden fishing boat out on the Sea of Galilee. The setting around Galilee was breathtaking, and the brilliant sun danced on the water as we glided across the sea. When we reached the center, Father Moriarty asked the captain to cut the motor, and he led us in morning prayer.

Afterward, I closed my eyes as we simply drifted on the water. A wind gust swirled through the air around us and my head was filled with “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:11). I was overcome with such a beautiful peace. Honestly, even a week and a half after returning from my trip, I feel like I’m still experiencing that calm despite returning to everyday life.

The Church of the Annunciation also spoke to my soul. As soon as we approached the courtyard to the church, I spotted a beautiful statue of two women facing one another, pregnant belly to belly. This sight brought tears to my eyes as I imagined Mary and Elizabeth filled with love for one another, and joy and anticipation for the lives growing inside them.

Donna, my close friend of more than 30 years, and I were beyond blessed to experience this trip of a lifetime together. Twice, we were pregnant at the same time with both of our children. We smiled knowingly at one another. It felt like God was telling us that we were meant to be in that exact place in time together, and to acknowledge our “yes” to life and motherhood, my most important role.

I’m still puzzled by my reaction to my last memory. We were at the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, the site of the high priest Caiaphas’ home and presumably where Jesus was cast into a dungeon before being handed back to Pontius Pilate the following day. It wasn’t the Way of the Cross, the site of his beating or crucifixion, so I’m not entirely sure why I was overcome with emotion in this spot.

Gazing down into a basement cave-like structure which served as the dungeon, I wept to think of our Lord and Savior disparaged at the hands of man. I’ll never view the Eucharist the same way again after having so palpably felt Jesus’ suffering for the sake of our salvation.

In fact, I doubt I will ever view my faith or God’s word the same again.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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