In June 2017, nearly 30 people from this Diocese, Adelaide, Victoria and NSW ventured on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in June with Bishop John Ford.
The 19 day tour covered many holy sites in Israel and Jordan and included a Mass overlooking Syria, where the pilgrimage prayed for peace and justice in that country. During the service, three bombs went off, albeit some distance away.
We traversed Israel from top to bottom and from east to west; we went to mountain tops and to the lowest place on earth and travelled into Palestine and Jordan. We learned much history, ancient and modern, and explored the Old and New Testaments
We visited churches, ancient and modern, synagogues and a mosque. We followed in Christ’s footsteps from Nazareth to Capernaum to Caesarea Philippi and to Jerusalem where we walked down the Palm Sunday road and followed the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - the site of the crucifixion, Christ’s burial and his resurrection.
Mass was celebrated in churches, chapels, indoor and outdoor, and what was essentially a carpark on the Syrian border.
Churches and Places of Worship
Churches/chapels in the Holy Land range from ancient to modern. The oldest complete church in the Christian world is the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem which was built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th Century. It replaced the original church of Constantine the Great, built over the cave venerated as Christ’s birthplace, and dedicated in AD 339. The newest chapel we visited was the Encounter Chapel in the Magdala Centre, Galilee, which was opened in 2014. However, the floor is that of the original first century market place of the Magdala port and takes us back to the time of Christ.