It is a joy to invite you to join us on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Since our youth we have been hearing the gospel stories about Jesus walking and teaching in Jerusalem, Capernaum, and Galilee. He worked miracles around the Sea of Tiberius, Jericho and Cana. He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth and was crucified at Golgotha. We will be seeing those places and much more. Our visit will give us an opportunity of walking in the footsteps of Jesus, our Blessed Mother and the first disciples. Each day we will celebrate Mass and reflect on the gospel text appropriate to the place we visit. This will be a pilgrimage of a lifetime and it will forever change the way you read and understand the Scriptures. We hope you will be able to join us on what promises to be a grace-filled journey to the land from which has come our salvation.
Sincerely in the Risen Lord,
Father Brian Eilers & Deacon Jerry Klemen
THURSDAY DECEMBER 28 DAY 1: DEPARTURE: Depart en route to Tel Aviv with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.
FRIDAY DECEMBER 29 DAY 2: ARRIVE TEL-AVIV: Once we arrive to Tel Aviv, we will meet our Holy Land Travel Center representative and continue to Bethlehem for dinner and overnight.
SATURDAY DECEMBER 30 DAY 3: JERUSALEM: MT. OLIVES, GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE: We start our pilgrimage by driving to the top of the Mt. of Olives for a spectacular view of Jerusalem. Visit the Church of Pater Noster, the Chapel of Ascension, and then walk the “Palm Sunday Road” to Dominus Flevit, where Our Lord wept over Jerusalem. Continue to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations for Mass on the Rock of Agony. After lunch, we continue onto the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu (where Peter denied Christ), the House of Caiphas, the Church of the Dormition of Our Lady, and the Upper Room, commemorating the Last Supper.
SUNDAY DECEMBER 31 DAY 4: BETHLEHEM, EIN KAREM, CHURCH OF VISITATION: Today we start by celebrating Mass at the church of the Nativity, we then visit St. Jerome’s Chapel, St. Catherine’s Church and the Milk Grotto. We then head to Shepherds’ Field. After lunch we drive to Ein Karem where we visit the church of St. John the Baptist and the church of Visitation. We head back to our hotel to rest and get ready for our new year’s gala. At night we join local Christians in a New Year‘s Eve celebration with fine food and music.
MONDAY JANUARY 1 DAY 5: CAESAREA MARITIMA, AKKO: This morning we head to Caesarea, once capital of the Roman Province, to visit Roman and Crusader remains and the Roman Theatre. We then head towards Akko and visit the Pilgrim’s Castle. Continuing to St. John the Baptist Church where we will celebrate mass at the seashore before traveling to Tiberias for dinner and overnight.
TUESDAY JANUARY 2 DAY 6: CAESAREA PHILIPPI, MAGDALA, AND SEA OF GALILEE: Drive to the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus traveled with his disciples and where nearby Peter made his great profession of faith. Continue on to Magdala where we celebrare mass. Later we head to the Mount of Beatitudes where our Lord preached to the multitudes. We then visit Capernaum where our Lord Jesus chose to center his ministry. At Tabgha, you will visit the Church of the Multiplication of the Fishes and Loaves, and visit the Chapel of Primacy of Peter. This afternoon we take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 3 DAY 7: HAIFA, MEGIDDO, MOUNT TABOR: We begin our morning by visitng Haifa and the Summit of Mount Carmel, this magnificent garden features 19 terraces and its centerpiece, the golden-domed Shrine of the Bab. Continue to Megiddo, identified as the site of Armageddon, see the remains from Solomon’s days, view the site where the Battle of Armageddon will be fought. We then head towards Mt. Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus.
THURSDAY JANUARY 4 DAY 8: CANA, NAZARETH, BEIT SHE‘AN: Begin the day with a visit to the small village of Cana, site of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding feast. Here, couples will have the opportunity to renew their wedding vows. We then head to Nazareth where we visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, the Grotto, St. Joseph’s Workshop, and Mary’s well. We continue to Beit She’an, home of some of the best-preserved ruins in the Middle East. We head to nearby Mount Gilboa where the army of King Saul, Israel’s first king, was defeated by the Philistines and Saul’s three sons were killed.
FRIDAY JANUARY 5 DAY 9: JERUSALEM: THE OLD CITY, HOLY SEPULCHER: This morning, we head to Jerusalem and enter through Stephen’s Gate, with a visit to the church of St, Anne, marking the place of birth of the Blessed Mother, visiting as well the nearby Pools of Bethesda. We proceed to the Chapel of the Flagellation (where Our Lord was scourged), then carry the cross as we follow the Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross) ending at the church of the Holy Seplucher. After the Stations, we return to the Ecce Homo Arch and Lithostrotos, where we celebrate Mass.
SATURDAY JANUARY 6 DAY 10: MANGER SQUARE CELEBRATIONS, HOME OF PEACE ORPHANAGE, EMMAUS: As we imagine, Christmas in Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born, is a major event. This morning we will join local Christians in celebrating Christmas in Manger Square, one of the main highlights of our pilgrimage. We will make a stop by the Home of Peace Orphanage, which was established in memory of Monsignor Stanislaus T. Sypek to carry on his lifelong passion of working with children. After lunch we head North for the celebration of the Eucharist in the Holy site of Emmaus Niccopolis where the Risen Jesus met the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and was recognized through the breaking of the bread.
SUNDAY JANUARY 7 DAY 11: BETHANY, JERICHO, DEAD SEA, QUMRAN, FAREWELL DINNER: This morning we depart towards Bethany where we celebrate mass. We continue to Jericho and take the cable cars to the top of Mt. Temptations. We then visit the “Dead Sea” for a day swim (bring your swim suit). Tonight we gather for our farewell dinner at a local Christian restaurant.
MONDAY JANUARY 8 DAY 12: RETURN HOME: Today we arrive home safely with unforgettable memories knowing that we have walked in the footsteps of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
OPTIONAL 5 DAY EXTENSION TO ISTANBUL
MONDAY JANUARY 8 DAY 12: ISTANBUL: This morning we board our short flights to Istanbul. After visa formalities, we immediately begin our pilgrimage by enjoying aerial views of hillside neighborhoods and the Golden Horn as you ride a cable car to an atmospheric café named for writer Pierre Loti, a perfect spot for getting panoramic photos of the city, then visit the elegant Rustem Pasha Mosque before pausing for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch get on a private boat for a cruise over the Bosphorous. Disembark at Hisar and step in to Istanbul’s history at Rumeli Fortress, a 15th century fortification built by an iconic sultan.
TUESDAY JANUARY 9 DAY 13: ISTANBUL: This morning we head to the Sultanahmet district. This World Heritage-listed district is crammed with historic buildings and enough magical atmospheres to keep you enthralled for days. Full day at the Sultan Ahmed (Blue) Mosque with its six minarets and thousands of blue tile, the Basilica of St. Sofia, (church of the sacred wisdom), now a museum, converted to a mosque from a Christian basilica after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Next we see the century Basilica Cistern to learn how it protected the palace water supply, and why it was lost for hundreds of years.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 10 DAY 14: ISTANBUL/ GRAND BAZAAR: We begin our day with a visit to the Topkapi Palace; overlooking the Sea of Marmara. We then visit the Grand Bazaar for shopping. The Grand Bazaar is an amazing place - literally a maze of streets. It is one of the largest undercover bazaars in the world and is even divided into areas like the leather section, or the rug section.
THURSDAY JANUARY 11 DAY 15: ISTANBUL: Explore the Eastern Orthodox Christian sites of Istanbul, known in Byzantine times as Constantinople. Visit the Orthodox Patriarchate in the beautiful Church of St George, and check out other richly gilded places of worship including the Church of St Mary of the Mongols, and Chora Church, famous for its glittering Byzantine mosaics and frescoes. This evening we enjoy a night on the Bosphorus Strait filled with belly dancing and Anatolian folk music during this dinner cruise from Istanbul. This Bosphorus dinner cruise traverses over the strait’s beautiful evening waters and passes Istanbul’s best sights. See the illuminated Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and Blue Mosque as you watch a traditional performance and savor great food and drinks.
FRIDAY JANUARY 12 DAY 16: RETURN HOME: This morning we board our return flights home with memories to last a lifetime.