HCEF Living Stones
Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, O.F.M
March 18th – 26th,  2015 –  10 Days/ 9 Nights

In the company of our pilgrimage spiritual director, Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, O.F.M., we will visit holy places, give God plenty of time to work on us, and when we return home, we will have faces and stories of Palestinian Christians – the “Living Stones” of the Holy Land deeply embedded in our minds and hearts.


Day 1— Tuesday, March 17th: Travel to & Arrival in Tel Aviv

Our pilgrimage – our journey to the holy places and to visit the “Living Stones” – begins today shortly after midnight, on our flight to the Holy Land.  There are meals and movies in flight, as well as some conversation and sleep. After arriving in Tel Aviv, we will transfer to Bethlehem for dinner and overnight.






Day 2— Wednesday, March 18th: Bethlehem, Beit Sahour

We will begin our day with a welcoming by HCEF staff, who will educate us about the HCEF programs in the Holy Land. Next, we visit the Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour, where the angels appeared to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, and where we will celebrate Mass. We will visit the Church of the Nativity (the birthplace of Jesus) as well as the Grotto of St. Jerome and the nearby Milk Grotto. 

We will then visit Bethlehem University and have lunch there with the students, followed by a visit to the Bethlehem Museum for Culture and Heritage where we will also have an opportunity to shop, then enjoydinner with HCEF staff in the museum restaurant. Overnight in Bethlehem.

Day 3— Thursday, March 19th: Jerusalem, Bethlehem 

We begin the day very early before departing for Jerusalem to walk the Via Dolorosa (the Way of the Cross) through the narrow alleys and bazaars of the Old City of Jerusalem, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Tomb of Jesus, where we will celebrate Mass in the Franciscan Chapel, followed by a tour of the Church. Later in the morning, we meet representatives of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.  Then we drive to the Mount of Olives to visit the churches of Pater Noster and Dominus Flevit. After lunch, we will visit the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed the night before his passion. Then we will have a free time in Jerusalem.Dinner and Overnight in Bethlehem.


Day 4— Friday, March 20th: Bethlehem, Jerusalem

After breakfast, we will have a meeting with a representative of Catholic Relief Services & Pontifical Mission. Then we will go and visit the Tent of Nations, where we will meet with DaoudNassar and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon, we will drive to Jerusalem, heading to Mount Zion to visit the Cenacle (Upper Room), the Dormition Abbey and the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu, where we celebrate Mass. Then we will meet a representative of Al Musalaha—the Ministry of Reconciliation—in Jerusalem. Dinner and Overnight in Jerusalem.
Day 5— Saturday, March 21st: Bethany, Birzeit

After breakfast,we drive to Bethany to visit the tomb of Lazarus and the Franciscan church of St. Lazarus, followed by a visit to St. Anne’s Church and the Pools of Bethesda. We will then drive to Birzeit to visit Our Lady of Peace, the Latin Church in Birzeit, and meet with the parish priest there.  Next, we will have lunch with the seniors at the Birziet Senior Citizen Center. These seniors will tell us more about the history of the Christian presence in this area and about some of the challenges they face.Dinner and overnight in the homes of local Christian families from Birziet and Jifna.


Day 6— Sunday, March 22nd: Birzeit, Jerusalem

After breakfast in the homes of our host families, we will have Sunday mass at our Lady of Peace in Birzeit. Then we will drive to Jerusalem where we will have a free time there enjoying the old city. Dinner and Overnight in Jerusalem.


Day 7— Monday, March 23rd: Nablus, Burqin, Jenin

After breakfast, we check out from the hotel in Bethlehem and then drive north, reaching the town of Nablus and Jacob's Well, where Jesus met the Samaritan woman who offered him water. Next, we will visit the town of Sebastia where there is an ancient tradition associated with John the Baptist. There, we’ll also see ancient Roman tombs, a Hellenistic tower and Herodion gate towers. Upon leaving Nablus, we’ll travel to a town of Burqin, where we will visit one of the oldest Byzantine churches, and the cave of the lepers whom Jesus healed. The church lies on a hill overlooking Burqin Valley and is still used by the Greek Orthodox community of the village. Leaving Burqin, we continue north to Jenin, where we will meet with the local Christian community and their parish priest. Dinner and overnight in Jenin

Day 8—Tuesday, March 24th: Mount Tabor, Nazareth

After an early breakfast,we drive to visit Mount Tabor, also known as the Mount of the Transfiguration, located just a few miles from Nazareth.    We will have lunch in Nazareth before visiting and celebrating mass at theBasilica of the Annunciation, where the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary.  Next, we visit St. Joseph’s church, Joseph’s workshop (where Jesus worked as a carpenter alongside his stepfather), and Mary’s well. If we have time, we will explore and shop independently in the old city of Nazareth before dinner and overnight in Nazareth.





Day 9—Wednesday, March 25th:  Sea of Galilee

After early breakfast, we will go to visit the Mount of Beatitudes with ample time for a private prayer and reflection.  We will partake of a lunch of “St. Peter’s Fish.”   When we finish, we will enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.  Next, we visit Capernaum, which Jesus considered “home,” and where we see an ancient synagogue and the remains of Peter’s house.   Our final pilgrimage visit today is Tabgha, the site of the multiplication of the fishes and the loaves.  There we’ll celebrate an outdoor Mass at St Peter’s Primacy, the place along the shore where Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” His question resonates just as clearly for us today.  Dinner and overnight in Nazareth.

Day 10—Thursday, March 26th: Return to US from Tel Aviv

After an early morning check-out and transfer to the airport, we fly back home.  However, our faith journey will continue in a new, invigorated way.  Having visited the sacred places in our tradition, having met the descendants of the first disciples of Jesus and witnessed how the people of the Holy Land strive to build bridges of justice, peace and reconciliation–all these experiences will enrich your spiritual life and transform us.  They will also enable us to read not just the bible but also the newspapers, and to watch the news in a different way.  A Living Stones pilgrimage the Holy Land will enrich and change our lives for better.  



  • 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.

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