The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF)is organizing a pilgrimage from the Pittsburgh, PA area to the Holy Land, May 2-16, 2009, coinciding with the Pope’s trip to the Holy Land during that same month. The timing of this ‘fact finding mission’ will provide pilgrims the opportunity to mirror Pope Benedict XVI’s visits to Holy sites and to participate in the papal visit. The goal of the pilgrimage is spiritual, not political, giving pilgrims’ opportunity to experience our faith firsthand, walking where Jesus walked and taught.  A spiritual journey with an impact that will change your heart and life forever!

His Beatitude Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, is greatly encouraged when pilgrims visit the Holy Land, as it assures him that the Christians in the Holy Land have not been forgotten.  This pilgrimage, sponsored by HCEF, will begin in Jordan, the gate to the Holy Land!  The pilgrims will continue from Jordan to Palestine and Israel, following in the steps of Pope Benedict in their visit to the Holy places. They will also visit schools, meet and break bread with the ‘living stones’ and learn more about the Arab Christians living in the Holy Land!  The HCEF sponsored pilgrimage will also include visits to Mt. Nebo, Bethlehem, the old City of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Cana and the Sea of Galilee.  Pilgrims can join the Arab Christians in receiving the Pope in the Holy Land and pray with him at the Holy sites.

Father Brian Welding, Judicial Vicar and Vice Chancellor of the Pittsburgh Diocese will serve as the spiritual director. He visited the Holy Land once as a student in Rome and eagerly anticipates returning.  Patricia Mazar, Senior Administrator in the Office of Regulatory Affairs at the Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, HCEF Catholic Outreach Coordinator and Chairman of the Holy Land Christian Support Network (HCSN) stated that the importance of this trip is to focus on camaraderie between Christians in the United States and those in the Holy Land. This is a critical factor as the presence of Christians living in the Holy Land continues to decrease.  Currently, they represent less than 2 percent of the population, which is down from 18 percent in 1948.

This is a spiritual journey for every Christian!  For more information on how YOU can join us, please contact Patricia Mazar by phone at 412 760 5297 or by email at, or

For further details please contact

The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF)

Karen Gainor at (+) 301 951 9400 ext. 219 or by email at

Salim Al ama at (+) 972 2 2750093 or (+) 972 2 2751407 or by email at 

Fax (+) 301 951 9402 or (+) 972 2750094

HCEF is a nonprofit organization Founded in 1999 by an ecumenical group of American Christians to inform American Christians of the plight of Palestinian Christians. “We seek to replace despair with hope, fear with security, and humiliation with human dignity.”