A delegation of eighteen Catholic men and women from Franciscan Holy Name Province is setting out on a peacemaking pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Their aim is to build a small bridge of solidarity for peace


Franciscan Peacemaking Pilgrimage


The pilgrimage, organized by The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), is led by, Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, O.F.M. from the Franciscan Holy Name Province. In addition to an audience with the Latin Patriarch and visits to the holy sites in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Galilee, highlights of the trip include: meeting the oldest Christian community in the Holy Land, a visit with students of Bethlehem University learning first hand of the daily hardships imposed by the Israeli military, a visit to the ‘Tent of Nations’ outside Bethlehem surrounded by the encroaching Israeli settlements and a tour of East Jerusalem with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. They will also visit with the Bereaved Families group, Israelis and Palestinians who lost family members to violence, and are now engaged in grass-roots programs promoting reconciliation and peace through non-violence. The group will learn first hand about the HCEF outreach programs in the West Bank, meet the staff, and visit the HCEF supported Senior Center in Birzeit. Fr. Orzechowski says, “This is the fourth time that I have led an HCEF Peacemaking Pilgrimage. The pilgrims come; their eyes are opened. They see not only the ancient stones – the vestiges of the historical life of Jesus -but they encounter His living presence in the land and its people. For many, it is the first encounter with Palestinian Christians.


Meeting with Sheikh Tayseer Rayab Al Tamimi


They learn about their suffering under the dehumanizing military occupation. But the pilgrims are also touched by their faith and inspired by their hope and resilience. Upon returning to the U.S., often the pilgrims are spurred into action. They become involved in the wonderful projects promoted by HCEF, educating Americans about the plight of the Palestinian Christians. They join other Christians, Muslims and Jews, calling on the Obama Administration and Congress to work toward achieving a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land.”


Father Jacek and HCEF Staff in Bethlehem Office

The HCEF Living Stones Pilgrimage Program brings Christians to the Holy Land to live out an extraordinary experience. These journeys are full of spiritual enrichment, grace and excitement – they are experiences that truly change the way people see the world. The pilgrims get to know the Holy Land Christians (the Living Stones) by sharing their daily lives, culture, obstacles and faith.


Meeting and connecting with the Living Stones of the Holy Land can educate pastors and the faithful about their Mother Church in a personal way. All pilgrimages are coordinated with the local churches. As pilgrims, American Christians form a new relationship with the Holy Land Christian community and also follow the steps of our Lord – a spiritual experience that brings the Bible alive. Living Stones Pilgrimages are opportunities to see and experience the places of Jesus’ birth, ministry, death and resurrection. They are spiritual in orientation with three primary emphases: Visiting with the Living Stones, Seeing the Holy Land, and Supporting the Local Christian Community.

Below are the pilgrimages scheduled for 2010

  • Shadyside Presbyterian Church/Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
    February 27 – March 13, 2010
  • First Presbyterian Church Boulder (Mission Trip)
    March 1-14, 2010
  • John Paul II Cultural Center, Washington, DC
    April, 2010
  • St. Andrew Catholic Church – Milford, Ohio
    May 5 – May 19, 2010
  • Siena College/St. Bonaventure College – New York
    June 2010
  • Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio
    June 2010

If you would like to organize your own pilgrimage to the Holy Land or, if a spot is available, join one of the pilgrimages listed above (based on availability) or simply want more information about HCEF Living Stones Pilgrimages, please contact: Gail Freeman, Pilgrimage Coordinator

Toll free at 1-866-871-4234 or by Email: gfreeman@hcef.org