HCEF Living Stones
First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, CO
June 1th – 12th,  2015 –  12 Days/ 11 Nights

Under the leadership of Reverend Dr. Carl Hofmann, we will visit holy places, give God plenty of time to work on us, and when we return home, we will have the stories of Palestinian Christians – the “Living Stones” of the Holy Land – deeply embedded in our minds and hearts.


Day 1— Monday, June 1st: Tel Aviv

Our pilgrimage to the Holy Land begins today shortly after midnight. After arriving in Tel Aviv, we will transfer to Bethlehem for Dinner and Overnight

Day 2— Tuesday, June 2nd: Bethlehem & Beit Sahour

We will begin our day with a welcome by HCEF staff, who will teach us about HCEF’s programs in the Holy Land. Next, we will visit Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour. This is where the angels appeared to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. 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. After lunch we will visit Aida Refugee Camp and meet with some of the families who live there. Then we will visit a local handicraft workshop that was renovated by HCEF. After admiring the handmade crafts, we will learn more about the history of these crafts by visiting the Bethlehem Museum where we will also dine with HCEF staff. Overnight in Bethlehem

Day 3— Wednesday, June 3rd: Jerusalem 
We begin the day very early to depart for Jerusalem and walk the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) through the narrow alleys and bazaars of the Old City of Jerusalem, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Tomb of Christ. After that we will visit the Church of the Redeemer where we will have a service. Then, we will meet with the Latin Patriarchate HB Foad Twal, then after lunch, we will drive to the Mount of Olives to visit the churches of Pater Noster and Dominus Flevit. We will also visit the church of All Nations, located in the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed the night before his passion. 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.
  • The meeting with Patriarch can be changed referring to his Schedule.