Living Stones
April 22nd –May 6th 2014: 15 Days/ 13 Nights


In the company of Fr. Paul Lee, our Spiritual Director you will not only experience Biblical history, but you will also meet the Christians living in the Holy Land today- the Living Stones who are descended from the very first followers of Jesus Christ.


H.B. Patriarch Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Chair, HCEF Advisory Board

Welcome my dear friends! I invite you…

to be the guest of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land and to be in communion with the Catholics of the Holy Land. Share in their reality and their joys, reflect and consider your opportunity to serve your Mother Church.  There is no substitute for a real tangible experience. Come, see and enjoy! A pilgrimage is a great experience, but what is most important is that we encourage a pilgrimage where you can meet, break bread and visit the home of one of the Living Stones, the children of the Bible.  I await your visit!”

ABOUT the HCEF Living Stones Pilgrimage

With this HCEF Living Stones Pilgrimage, you will be far more than a visitor to the Holy Land. Through our program, you will travel as a guest of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem – which means you will receive a warm   welcome in all the Catholic Churches in the Holy Land, and a firsthand perspective on lives and values of Catholics in the Holy Land, and the unique challenges and opportunities they face.

In the company of Father Paul Lee, our pilgrimage spiritual director, we will follow in the pilgrim footsteps of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, through the land of Jesus’ birth, ministry, passion and resurrection.

This itinerary may need to be adjusted, due to situations beyond our control.  What will not change is that we will visit the holy places, give God plenty of time to work on us, and when we return home, we will have faces and stories of Jordanian and Palestinian Christians – the “Living Stones” of the Holy Land deeply embedded in our minds and hearts.

altDay 1– Tuesday, April 22nd: Travel to Amman, Jordan

Our pilgrimage begins today as we fly toward the Holy Land. There are meals and movies in flight, as well as some conversation and much needed rest before the journey begins.

Day 2 –Wednesday, April 23rd: Arrival in Madaba

We arrive at Queen Alia Airport and proceed to our hotel in Madaba, a traditional Christian village. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Madaba or Amman.

altDay 3 – Thursday, April 24th:  Madaba, Mount Nebo, Baptismal Site, Bethlehem

This morning we visit St. George’s Church in the Madaba village center to see the amazing Madaba Mosaic Map, the oldest surviving map of the Holy Land we have just begun to explore.  We then ascend Mount Nebo to gaze for the first time on “the land flowing with milk and honey,” from the place where Moses first glimpsed it. Here, we celebrate mass. Coming down from the mountain, we visit the American University of Madaba, the first Catholic University in Jordan. After lunch, we visit the traditional baptismal site of Jesus, just east of the Jordan River. We learn about the significance of the Jordan, experience its waters, and recommit ourselves as disciples of the one in whose name we have been baptized. In the afternoon we cross over the Jordan River into Palestine by way of the King Hussein bridge, and travel to Bethlehem for Dinner and Overnight.

Day 4 – Friday, April 25th:  Bethlehem 

Today after breakfast we meet with HCEF staff, to learn more about HCEF programs and visit homes rehabilitated through the HCEF Home Rehabilitation Program. Then, we visit Bethlehem University for a presentation and a meeting with students. We continue to HCEF’s Bethlehem Museum for a tour, followed by lunch in the museum’s restaurant. After lunch we will visit the Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour, where the angels appeared to announce the birth of Jesus.  Following their path to do him homage, we visit the Church of the Nativity for a tour and to celebrate Mass in one of the grottos. Then we visit the Milk Grotto, Shrine of the Motherhood of Mary, where Mary nursed the infant Jesus. Here, we offer prayers for the women who long to conceive and bear and nurse a child, and for all women in need of maternal healing. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.

altDay 5 –Saturday, April 26th: Bethlehem-Jerusalem

We begin the day at Ein Karem, to visit the Church of the Visitation, where Mary visited Elizabeth and proclaimed her famous “Magnificat.” At Ein Karem, we also visit the Church of John the Baptist on the site where he was born, and the cave where John and his mother Elizabeth hid, which later became the tomb of St. Elizabeth. We then meet with His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. After lunch we drive to Mount Zion to visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, at the site where St. Peter denied Jesus three times. Next we visit the Cenacle—the Upper Room where Jesus celebrated his Last Supper—followed by a visit to the Church of the Dormition—“the falling asleep”—of Mary, where we commemorate her death, assumption, and coronation as Queen of Heaven and Earth. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.

altDay 6 –Sunday, April 27th: Jerusalem

We begin the day at Ascension Hill on the Mount of Olives. From here we walk together to the Garden of Gethsemane, stopping at the Church of Pater Noster, where Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer, and the Church of Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept over Jerusalem.  We celebrate mass at the Church of Gethsemane, also called the “Church of Agony” and the “Church of All Nations.”  After lunch, we enter the Old City Jerusalem via St. Stephen’s Gate to visit the Church of St. Anne, the birthplace of Mary, the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the sick man, and the Convent of the Sisters of Zion, Lithostrotos. We return to Bethlehem for dinner and overnight.

Day 7 – Monday, April 28th:  Jerusalem – Old City

After an early breakfast, we drive to Jerusalem to have a Mass at the Tomb of Christ, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and to enjoy more time for prayer and meditation. After mass, there will be a more extensive tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and a walk along the Via Dolorosa, or the “Way of Sorrows,” the path along which Jesus carried his cross.  After lunch the afternoon is free for exploring in the Old City of Jerusalem.  Dinner and Overnight in Bethlehem.

altDay 8 – Tuesday, April 29th:  Bethlehem—Ramallah—Birzeit

First in the morning we visit Bethlehem Municipality and meet with local officials. Then, we drive to Ramallah and have meetings with civil and religious leaders. After lunch, we drive to Birzeit to visit Our Lady of Guadalupe, our partner parish. Here, we meet with the parish priest and Parishioners, We then separate with our gracious hosts to break bread and share the homes of those whose families have lived and saved the faith in the land of Christ since He walked here. Dinner and overnight with local Christian families, in their homes in Birzeit and Jifna.

altDay 9 – Wednesday, April 30th:  Birzeit -Bethlehem

After breakfast with our host families we will visit HCEF’s Birzeit Senior Citizen’s Center (BSCC) for some activities with the elderly followed by a luncheon. The seniors here can tell us more about the history of this place than any informational plaques or monuments of stone can. After our lunch, we drive to Bethlehem, where we will enjoy free time to rest. In the evening, we will join HCEF staff, all local Christians, for dinner at HCEF’s Bethlehem Museum restaurant . Overnight in Bethlehem.

Day 10 – Thursday, May 1st: Dead Sea – Jericho – Bethany

We begin the day with morning mass. Remembering Joshua leading his people into the Promised Land, we drive to Jericho, the first city taken by Joshua. In Jericho, we remember the short-in-stature Zacchaeus climbing the sycamore tree and the blind Bartimaeus wanting to see. We call to the mind the temptations of Jesus, as we look at the monastery on the side of the Mount of Temptations. After lunch in Jericho we visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, visit the remains of the community center of the essences and the caves of the scrolls. Driving along the shores of the Dead Sea, on our way back to Bethlehem we visit Bethany Church in the town where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and where he ate in the home of Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Mary. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.

Day 11 – Friday, May 2nd:  Nablus -Jenin

After breakfast, we drive north, reaching the town of Nablus in time for lunch, followed by sightseeing. We will visit Jacob's well where Jesus met the Samaritan woman who offered him water. Then we visit Sebastia, where the head of John the Baptist was found, and offer prayers. Nablus, founded by the Roman Emperor Titus, is famous for its olive oil soap, and kenafa, a tasty oriental pastry. The visible remains at ancient Sebastia include Roman tombs, a Hellenistic tower, a Basilica, and Herodion gate towers. Upon leaving Nablus we drive north to Jenin, where we meet with the Parish Priest and Jenin parishioners. Dinner and overnight in Jenin.

altDay 12 – Saturday, May 3rd:  Nazareth
This morning we travel north toward the Sea of Galilee. We arrive in Nazareth to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation where we pray the “Angelus” in the cave of the Annunciation, and celebrate mass. Next we visit St. Joseph’s Church and Mary’s Well before lunch in Nazareth. After lunch we visit the Church at Cana, the site of Jesus’ first miracle of turning the water into wine. Here, couples have opportunity to renew their wedding vows. Dinner and Overnight Nazareth.

altDay 13 – Sunday, May 4th: Sea of Galilee

After Breakfast we pass through the Valley of the Doves “the Arbel Pass” to approach the Sea of Galilee as Jesus would have on his way from Nazareth.  After mass at a lovely outdoor chapel on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at Tabgha, we spend some quiet time along the water, imagining ourselve s with Jesus. We pray at the site of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, and at the place along the shore where Jesus asked Peter three times —and today, asks us—“Do you love me?” Next, we visit Capernaum, which Jesus considered home and where he healed so many and taught so much. Today, the remains of Capernaum include an ancient synagogue and the vestiges of Peter’s house. After a lunch of St. Peter’s fish, we board a boat for a ride on the Sea of Galilee, stopping to rock on the waves, to feel the wind, and to sing of the one whom “even the wind and the sea obey.” Finally, we travel to the Mount of Beatitudes for a time of prayer and meditation on the hillside, before returning to Nazareth for Dinner and Overnight.

altDay14 – Monday, May 5th: Nazareth –Jordan

After breakfast in Nazareth, we return to Jordan, on the first part of our journey home.  Our first stop in Jordan is Jerash, one of the best preserved of the original Roman cities in the Middle East. After lunch, we continue onwards to Amman for a driving tour of the city and to spend our last evening together. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Amman or Madaba.

altDay 15 – Tuesday, May 6th:  Departure to US

Some might say that on this day our pilgrimage ends – not so!  We have been to the places and have seen the faces and they will never leave us.  We will read the paper and watch the news in a different way.  We will hear and read the gospels in a new way.  Our ears and our eyes, our minds and our hearts have been opened!


  • Mass can be arranged daily.
  • Itinerary subject to change without notice.
  • The Itinerary includes interaction with the locals.
  • The Itinerary can change according to your special requests; sites can be added or removed.
  • Hotels will be confirmed upon group’s final reservations and deposits.

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