June 6-16, 2022
Led by the Rev. Paul Klitzke
“Religion points to that area of human experience where in one way or another man comes upon mystery as a summons to pilgrimage.” – Frederick Buechner
Traveling is an important experience for many of us. The opportunity to explore new places often helps expand our understanding of the world. While not all travel is enjoyable, most often it does add to our lives. I feel blessed to have traveled some, and blessed when I hear the experiences of others as well.
Through the fall, some from the parish have gathered to discuss a particular type of travel. Pilgrimage is unique in that it combines the potential impacts of travel, with deep roots of faith. Most often, it involves visiting holy sites and seeking to connect with places we’ve only previously known through story.
I have had a few pilgrimage trips and have longed to share the experience with a parish. While many destinations call out, none more so than the Holy Land. My appreciation for the sites we will visit has only grown in my years of preaching. The complexity of the place, historically and today has also shaped my desire to share the experience with others. I hope you will consider joining me and others from Ascension on this pilgrimage.
- All airport departure & passenger taxes
- Hotel Accommodations
- Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
- Entrance fees & local government taxes
- Modern air-conditioned tour buses
- Single room supplement
- travel insurance
- Any items of a personal nature
Day 1: Monday, JUNE 6
We meet in the morning at DFW for our flight to Newark, where we will have time to purchase lunch before boarding our afternoon flight to Tel Aviv. Dinner will be served on board and we will have the chance to try and get a good night’s sleep before landing tomorrow morning.
Day 2: tuesday, June 7
We land in Israel mid morning, and will be met by our guide and driver, with whom we will travel north to the Galilee. After a stop for lunch, we will begin our pilgrimage by ascending Mount Tabor, believed to be the site of the Transfiguration. From here, we will be taken to our beautiful pilgrim guest house on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, which will be our home for the next three nights.
Day 3: wednesday, june 8
After breakfast we drive to Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, the traditional site of Mary’s Well and the Synagogue Church. We then continue to the village of Cana, the site of Jesus’ first sign according to St John before breaking for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit another recently excavated site, Sepphoris, biblical Zippori, believed to be the birthplace of Mary and it is quite possible that Joseph met Mary whilst working here. Sepphoris was a major Roman and Byzantine city with paved colonnaded streets, grand villas, synagogues and churches. We will return to our guest house in time to relax before dinner.
Day 4: thursday, june 9
Today will be devoted to a leisurely exploration of the area that was the base for Jesus’ ministry by the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. We will visit sites associated with the call of the first disciples, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the teaching of the Sermon Mount, and the village of Capernaum. We will also sail on a modern-day version of the kind of boat used for fishing at the time of Jesus and also see the remains of a similar boat which dates back to the early First Century.. We will also visit the recently excavated first century synagogue at Magdala, the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, before returning to our hotel in good time to freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 5: Friday, june 10
Leaving the beauty and tranquility of the Galilee, we will journey through the heart of the West Bank to the major Palestinian city of Nablus. We will meet the local Episcopal rector, and as his guests, see the work of St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, providing significant specialist medical care in the heart of the city, and visit Jacob’s Well, which was already a place of pilgrimage in the time of Jesus. We will eat lunch at the only Christian-owned restaurant in the city, and we also hope to have a meeting with members of the Samaritan community on nearby Mt Gerizim. At the end of the day we journey on to the ‘little town’ of Bethlehem, situated behind the 27-foot high Separation Wall. We will stay here for two nights, in a delightful family-run hotel close to Manger Square.
Day 6: saturday, june 11
Today we will be reminded not just of the story of the Incarnation but see how it is lived out only a short walk away from the birthplace of Jesus. After a visit to the Shepherds Fields, we will come to the St Vincent Creche/Orphanage - the only facility of its kind in the West Bank, offering Christian love and compassion to over forty abandoned babies and small children. After lunch we will visit the Church of the Nativity, and remind ourselves of the eternal significance of the Christmas story.
Day 7: Sunday, june 12
This morning we leave Bethlehem after breakfast and drive over to East Jerusalem to attend the principal Sunday Eucharist at St. George’s Episcopal Cathedral. After coffee with members of the congregation we drive to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum and Park. After lunch we will visit the Israel Museum, to see a remarkable model of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, and the Shrine of the Book exhibit about the Dead Sea Scrolls, before finishing our day at the village of Ein Karem, believed to have been the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth and thus the site of the birth of John the Baptist and of the encounter between Elizabeth and Mary, when Magnificat was first sung. Finally we come to our hotel, located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, which will be our home for the final nights of our pilgrimage.
Day 8: Monday, june 13
This morning we journey south to the major Palestinian city of Hebron, where we will visit the tombs of Abraham and the other matriarchs and patriarchs. We will also see very clearly the hideous complexity of the Occupation and its impact on the people of this city. After lunch we head towards Jerusalem, to walk down the Mount of Olives from Bethphage to the Garden of Gethsemane, stopping at the churches of Pater Noster, Dominus Flevit, and the Church of All Nations.
Day 9: tuesday, june 14
Our day starts with a visit to The Princess Basma Centre for Children with Disabilities, a charitable institution run by the Episcopal church. The center was established in 1966 and has assisted children with disabilities with physical rehabilitation education and helps create opportunities for their future employment. From here we ascend Mount Zion to visit sites associated with the Last Supper, the Day of Pentecost and the falling asleep of Mary, before finishing our day at the church of St Peter in Gallicantu built at the top of an ancient set of steps which leads up from the City of David to what is believed to have been the residence of the High Priest. Many believe that Jesus himself was led up these steps to His trial by the authorities after His arrest. Here we recall not only Jesus’ incarceration over the last night of his life, but also Peter’s faithless threefold denial of Jesus. After lunch we will descend to the Jordan Valley to visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and end our day with the chance to bathe in the unique waters of the Dead Sea.
Day 10: wednesday, june 15
We will make an early start to visit the Western Wall and Temple Mount before coming to the start of the Via Dolorosa and walking the Way of the Cross through the crowded streets of the Old City towards the Church of the Holy Sepulchure. After a break for lunch we will have the choice a of a free afternoon to explore the Old City or the opportunity of visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum and Park.
Day 11: thursday, june 16
After breakfast we check out of our hotel and drive west to Tel Aviv airport to fly home to Dallas, changing planes at Newark. We land late at night, ready to rest in our own beds, and rise refreshed in the days that follow, ready to share with those we meet all we have experienced in the Land of the Holy One.