Pilgrims from St. Andrew Parish, in Cincinnati, Ohio left their homes on Wednesday, May 5, 2010 to build solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land. They will experience the day-to day complexities and lives of the “living stones”, and visit towns which reflect the vibrant heritage of the Holy Land.
This pilgrimage, like all pilgrimages organized by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), will provide opportunity for the Christians of St. Andrew to discover the presence of the risen Christ in the midst of the present struggle for justice, peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land
Father Rob Waller, Pastor
Father Rob Waller, Pastor of St. Andrew Parish and Spiritual Director for the 12-pilgrim delegation is HCEF’s Holy Land Priest in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has been, and continues to be very active with HCEF, its programs and events, and very active in his support of Christians in the Holy Land. He and the parishioners of St. Andrew have graciously hosted students from Palestine in their home through the HCEF Children’s Peace Project (CPP).
St. Andrew pilgrims will strengthen their HCEF Parish Partnership Program by visiting their friends and partner parish at Annunciation Church in Beit Jala.
This 14-day pilgrimage will include: daily mass, a visit to the holy sites, an opportunity for the married couples on the trip to renew their marriage vows at the chapel where water becomes wine; a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee; an evening reading of the Sermon on the mount under a tree on the hillside; prayer along the Via Dolorosa carrying the wooden cross; a visit to Bethlehem University and a visit to the HCEF Bethlehem office where they will learn more about the HCEF and its many programs developed to support the Christians of the Holy Land, culminating with dinner together with the staff of the Bethlehem HCEF office.
HCEF President Rateb Rabie said, “These pilgrimages are not only life changing, but they give strong testament to the importance of being actively connected to the Mother Church, the land where our faith began.”
Each pilgrimage organized by HCEF provides an opportunity for pilgrims to meet, worship and fellowship with the local Christians, thus increasing understanding between Arab and Western Christians. Pilgrims experience the daily life of Palestinians by tasting the traditional foods and participating in the traditional celebrations. ‘Living Stones’ welcome and host HCEF pilgrims in their homes for one night, giving ample opportunity to connect, share and build solidarity.
Before returning home, the pilgrims will spend some time with H.B. Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and HCEF Advisory Board Chairman.
It is our prayer that every pilgrim will return home with a renewed spirit, and the faces and stories of Jordanian and Palestinian Christians, the ‘Living Stones’, deeply embedded in their hearts, and with a compelling desire to get more involved in the pursuit to ‘replace despair with hope, fear with human security and humiliation with human dignity.’
To plan a living Stones pilgrimage for your church or group, or to participate in an already planned pilgrimage contact Gail Freeman, HCEF Pilgrimage Coordinator at 1-866-871-4234. For more information about HCEF please visit our website at www.hcef.org