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Franciscan Pilgrimage to Holy Land

holy_1May 17– 27, 2016

During this Year of Mercy, we invite pilgrims to visit the Holy Land.  Upon the invitation of the Holy Father, we opened a Holy Door, a Door of Mercy in designated Churches in the diocese: the Basilica of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and the Church of Saint Catherine in Bethlehem.  Pilgrims should not be afraid to come. Despite the tense situation in this land, the pilgrim route is safe and they are respected and appreciated by all sectors in the Holy Land.

His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem,

 Who is organizing it?     Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM with the support and under the direction of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (www.hcef.org)

What will be the size of the group?    Between 15 and 20 people.

What are some of the holy places that we will visit?  The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth,  the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the Shepherd’s Fields in Beit Sahour, the Garden of Gethsemane, Jacob’s Well in Nablus,  Mount Tabor, the place of Jesus’ Transfiguration,  the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha, the Sea of Galilee (a boat ride), the room where Jesus had the Last Supper with his disciples, the Mount of Olives, the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was crucified and his body laid into the tomb, and many other holy places.  Mass will be celebrated at some of these places.

What is unique about this pilgrimage?   

This pilgrimage brings people to some of the most holy places of our faith tradition and makes the Bible come alive.  It also exposes our pilgrims to meet some of the most extraordinary people of the Holy Land – Christians, Jews and Muslims – who work together for justice, peace and reconciliation.  Their inspirational testimonies not only allow the pilgrims to gain a deeper understanding of what is happening in the Holy Land; but they also build bridges of hope and solidarity. 


What religious and peace groups - or their leaders - are we planning to meet?  

Latin Patriarch, Archbishop Fouad Twal; Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation staff in Bethlehem; a group of Muslim and Christian students at Bethlehem University; a visit to the Tent of Nations farm in Bethlehem,.   We will also  have a lunch with the Palestinian Christian elders of the town of Birzeit and hear their stories.  

What will be the cost of the trip?  The cost is $ $4,010  per person from Dulles-Washington airport (double occupancy.)    A deposit of $750 or full payment is required when a reservation is made.  

When do I need to make a commitment?  Given that the space is limited, it is highly recommended that you inform Fr. Jacek of your interest in this trip as soon as possible.  The reservation and the deposit, however, must be received by February 10, 2016.  Full payment must be made by February 10, 2016.

I am ready to register! What should I do? You can register online at  https://holylandtours.ps/register/lsp-2016-4-fr-jacek-pilgrimage/  If you have difficulty with that, you can contact the HCEF pilgrimage coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call HCEF at (301) 951-9400 ext. 219.  Spiritual leader of the pilgrimage, Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 301-502-7621.


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Past Pilgrims Speak...

“The pilgrimage was like wading through the shores of intertwining rivers and becoming immersed in both. One river represented the spiritual and the other the social justice aspect of the trip. I was deeply moved by both parts of my pilgrimage experience.  It indeed was life-changing for me.  I encountered the human Jesus in ways I had never thought possible and I met brothers and sisters from Israel and Palestine who are hoping for deep changes in their societies based on reconciliation. It was a trip where the daily suffering of the people was apparent and yet I came away hopeful that people are ready for change.  I recommend this trip without reservation.”

-  Joan Conway, a parishioner at St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, MD.


“The trip was extraordinarily well done. I used to take religious news editors and concerned people to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel to meet with peace and human rights activists.  I did it for Americans for Middle East Understanding. I found this trip very valuable and am grateful for the good work which went into its planning.”

-    Fr. Elias Mallon, a friarof the Atonement, who is working at Franciscans InternationalinNYC. 


 “We were extremely fortunate to meet with Sami and Mubarak Awad.  Their work is incredible, and it is so important to remind people back in the U.S. that there are people like this in Palestine — peaceful, nonviolent activists.  I cannot stress enough what an impact this trip had on me.  I am not being melodramatic when I say that it was life changing.  I feel so, so fortunate to have had this experience.” 

- Joseph Wolyniak, advocacy coordinator for the Franciscan Coalition for Justice and Peace at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh, N.C.

 “I will remember the trip for the rest of my life.”

-  Fr. Jud Weiksnar, OFM, a co-chair of the Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation Directorate of the Holy Name    Province.