Upcoming Holy Land Pilgrimages
2023 Pilgrimage Dates:
Orientation Meeting: January 15
Pilgrimage: April 18 – May 2
Orientation Meeting: August 27
Pilgrimage: November 28 – December 12
“My second pilgrimage to the Holy Land was even more memorable then my first pilgrimage. As we walked in the footsteps of Jesus I felt Gods healing, embracing love along the way. God was Happy to see us! As we visited the beautiful and Holy Churches it was sometimes difficult to hold back the tears, they just come. What a blessing it was to have Mass in these Holy places. Just seeing the Holy Land with your own eyes, you learn so much! Not only did I find my comfort in Jerusalem, I had lots of fun with my fellow pilgrims and met so many wonderful people of the Holy Land.”
“My wife and I have taken many trips abroad, but none have been as memorable as the pilgrimage we made to the Holy Land with our beloved Fr. Alex Kratz. To actually walk and see where Jesus lived and died has far surpassed any places or travel experiences we have ever encountered. We are truly blessed and extremely grateful for the profound impact this spiritual journey has left on us. We have returned home enriched by the Biblical events and the gracious welcome of the Christian Palestinians.”
“To walk the land, to see the landscape, to feel the atmosphere, to feel the water of the Sea of Galilee, to know that these are what Jesus the man experienced is beyond words. To see the ethnic Christians whose bloodline dates back to the first converts, the living stones, and realize they were here first and still are a minority. To be at the Garden of Gethsemane in solitude where Jesus accepted the will of our Father made me see God’s love and mercy-thank you Terra Sancta Pilgrimages for organizing this overwhelming experience!”
“A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is an experience of a lifetime for any Christian and one we hope all Christians can have. Due to the organization of each day by Father Alex the focus and emphasis was always the religious aspect of what we visited. The pilgrimage never became just a tour of interesting places. Since the Franciscans are the guardians of many of the holy sites, having a Franciscan as the pilgrimage leader is advantageous and brings additional insights. The Franciscan leader of our pilgrimage, Father Alex, is truly an inspirational and knowledgeable person.”
“If you are considering a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I highly recommend going with Fr. Alex. He provided the most in-depth, comprehensive, prayerful experience I have ever had out of the four times I’ve been to the Holy Land!”
“The whole trip was moving and inspirational. As a deacon, I was privileged to assist at Mass almost every day there. To celebrate Mass in the Tomb of Jesus and at Calvary was so very special, words cannot describe how it affected me. To see the sun rise over the Sea of Galilee, to walk in the wilderness, where Jesus might have walked, will be with me always. Salaam al-Maseeh, ‘Peace be with you’.”
“This pilgrimage made my faith come alive. To walk in the footsteps of Christ is a life-changing experience. I read the Bible and hear Scripture read at Mass now with a much greater appreciation and understanding. I am truly present to God’s word in a much deeper way.”
“The pilgrimage Terra Sancta Pilgrimages put together was a totally spiritual experience that really changed me. God helped to make it easier than I thought it would be and the group of fellow pilgrims was so friendly.”
“When I first hear of Father Alex and his ministry, his was the only pilgrimage that I wanted to join. And I was not disappointed. What particularly appealed to me was entering into the life of the local Christian community. Fr. Alex afforded us the privilege of experiencing the ‘little way’ that provides great spiritual benefit to those who take the journey.”
“My pilgrimage with Father Alex and Terra Sancta Pilgrimages was a highlight of my Catholic Christian life-one that I will never forget! To actually walk in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus and experience the land where He lived and had His being, His ministry, His agony, death and resurrection, is beyond what I ever dreamed I could experience. It has enriched and blessed my life and continues to do so daily.”
About Fr. Alex Kratz
Father Alex Kratz, OFM, is a Franciscan friar living at St. Benedict the Black Friary (on the grounds of Ss. Peter & Paul Parish [Westside] in the Archdiocese of Detroit). He holds a B.A. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Divinity Degree (with a concentration in Sacred Scripture and a certificate in Biblical Spirituality) from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and an Advanced Certificate in Franciscan Studies from St. Bonaventure University.
This itinerary may need to be adjusted, due to situations beyond our control. What will not change is that 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 Jordanian and Palestinian Christians – the “living stones” of the Holy Land deeply embedded in our heads and hearts.
DAY 1: TRAVEL TO AMMAN JORDAN “THE GATE TO THE HOLY LAND”
Our pilgrimage – our prayerful journey to the holy places and to visit the “living stones” begins today as we fly toward the Holy Land. There are meals and movies in flight, as well as some conversation and sleep.
DAY 2: ARRIVE IN JORDAN, MADABA
We arrive in Queen Alia Airport in Jordan in late afternoon and travel by bus to Madaba (a Jordanian village near Amman). We celebrate our first Mass together in the Holy Land at St. John the Baptist Parish and enjoy dinner and overnight at our hotel in Madaba.
DAY 3: BAPTISMAL SITE, DEAD SEA, MT. NEBO, MADABA
We begin the day by traveling to 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. Next, we visit the beautiful Dead Sea and enjoy a refreshing dip. After lunch we take our first look at “the land flowing with milk and honey” from Mount Nebo, where Moses first glimpsed the Holy Land. After Mass at this site and a visit to the museum, we visit St. George’s Orthodox Church in Madaba to see the oldest mosaic map of Jerusalem in the world. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Madaba.
DAY 4: JERICHO, BEIT SAHOUR, BETHLEHEM
Remembering Joshua leading his people to the Promised Land, we begin the day by crossing the Jordan River and driving to Jericho, the first city taken by Joshua. In Jericho, we remember Zacchaeus and Bartimaeus and call to mind the temptations of Jesus as we view the monastery on the side of the mountain. After lunch in Jericho we visit the Franciscan parish of the Good Shepherd, then drive to Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour. Here, where the angels appeared to announce the birth of Jesus, we celebrate Mass. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Bethlehem.
DAY 5: BETHLEHEM
We begin the day with a visit to the Milk Grotto Shrine of the Motherhood of Mary to offer prayers. Our next stop is the Church of the Nativity to visit the birthplace of Jesus and celebrate Mass. Next we visit Bethlehem University for lunch, an opportunity to tour the university and to hear about life behind the Separation Wall as well as to visit it up close. In late afternoon there is time for some shopping at a souvenir store owned by Bethlehem Christians. We dine at ”The Tent”, an authentic Arabic restaurant and overnight at our hotel in Bethlehem.
DAY 6: EIN KEREM, BETHANY
This morning we begin the day by traveling to Ein Kerem and celebrate Mass at the Church of the Visitation, where Mary visited Elizabeth and proclaimed her famous “Magnificat”. We also visit the Church of John the Baptist on the site where John the Baptist was born and St. John the Baptist in the Desert church. After lunch we visit Bethany the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha to visit the Tomb of Lazarus and the beautiful Latin Church. Next, we travel to meet with the pastor of a local parish and meet with local Christian families.
DAY 7: EMMAUS, JERUSALEM
The day begins with the celebration of Sunday Mass with the parish community followed by a reception to chat and say our goodbyes to our new found friends. Next, on to Emmaus where we visit the beautiful grounds of the church, walk the ruins of the ancient road, and pray our hearts too “burn within us” as we hear His Word and recall the “breaking of the bread”. Dinner and overnight in our hotel in Jerusalem.
DAY 8: MOUNT OF OLIVES
We begin the day at Ascension Hill on the Mount of Olives, where we begin our walk to the Garden of Gethsemane at the traditional site of the Palm Sunday procession—Bethphage. We then visit 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). At Gethsemane, we take our time for private prayer, silent meditation, Confession if desired, and a simple boxed lunch, all in a beautiful private area of the Garden overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. Mass will be celebrated at the Church of Gethsemane (Church of Agony or Church of All Nations). After visiting the Grotto of Betrayal and Mary’s Tomb we return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 9: JERUSALEM
We begin our day very early in the morning walking the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) through the narrow alleys and bazaars of the Old City ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where we celebrate the Mass of the Resurrection and have more time for prayer and meditation. After Mass there will be time for a more extensive tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and a possible meeting with Catholic leaders of Jerusalem. After lunch the afternoon is free for exploring and shopping in the Old City. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem.
DAY 10: JERUSALEM
We begin the day with Mass at the site of Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Next we enter the Old City of Jerusalem through the Dung Gate to visit the Western Wall (the holiest shrine and synagogue in the world for the Jews) and the Temple Mount, the site of the golden Dome of the Rock and El-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third most sacred site. After lunch we visit the Church of St. Anne (the birthplace of Mary), the Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the sick man, the Chapel of Flagellation, and the Convent of the Sisters of Zion (Lithostrotos). We return to our Jerusalem hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 11: MT. ZION, NAZARETH, MT. OF BEATITUDES
This morning we travel to the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu (“cock-crow) in the Kidron Valley for Mass. Next we travel to Mt. Zion to visit the reconstructed site of the Cenacle (Upper Room) and the Church of the Dormition (the “falling asleep” of Mary). After lunch we travel to the Galilee region where we enjoy the afternoon in Nazareth. We celebrate Mass at the beautiful Basilica of the Annunciation and visit St. Joseph’s Church, the grotto home of the Holy Family. We continue the short distance by bus to Tiberias, for dinner and overnight on the Mt. of Beatitudes. After dinner, we will gather on the hillside for prayer and reflection.
DAY 12: SEA OF GALILEE
After breakfast we begin the day with a morning Mass on the Mt. of Beatitudes. Then we travel to the Sea of Galilee and board a boat for a ride on the Sea, stopping to rock on the waves, to feel the wind, and remember The One whom “even the wind and the sea obey”. Next we visit Capernaum, which Jesus considered “home” and where he healed so many and taught so much, and where we see an ancient synagogue and the remains of Peter’s house and join in a healing service at the church there. After enjoying a traditional lunch of “St. Peter’s fish”, we visit Tabgha, the site of the multiplication of the fishes and the loaves and visit St Peter’s Primacy, the place along the shore where Jesus three times asked Peter (and asks us), “Do you love me”? There is time for an optional walk along the Sea of Galilee from Tabgha to Capernaum before returning to the Mt. of Beatitudes for dinner and overnight.
DAY 13: BANIAS, GOLAN HEIGHTS, NAIN, MT. TABOR
We begin the day by driving to northern Galilee to Banias (Caesarea Philippi) where Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah then enjoy a drive up through the Golan Heights. After lunch we continue with a visit to Nain, the place Jesus raised the widow’s son. Next we visit Mt. Tabor, the most striking mountain in Galilee and the place chosen by Jesus to be the site of his Transfiguration, for Mass and a time of reflection Dinner and overnight back at the Mt. of Beatitudes.
DAY 14: MT OF BEATITUDES, CANA, MADABA
We say good-bye to Galilee after spending the early morning enjoying the beauty of God’s creation from the mountainside. We board our bus to visit the Church at Cana, the site of Jesus’ first miracle. After celebrating Sunday Mass with the renewal of wedding vows and giving thanks for all of the blessings of our pilgrimage, there is an opportunity to shop for wedding wine and crafts. After lunch we enjoy one last scenic view of the Holy Land from our bus, cross the Allenby Bridge to Jordan and drive back to Madaba to rest in our hotel and enjoy our final dinner together.
DAY 15: RETURN FROM AMMAN TO DETROIT
IS THIS A PILGRIMAGE OR A COMMERCIAL TOUR?
This is a pilgrimage: a spiritual journey for the sake of encountering our sacred Center-God. This trip is meant to foster personal spiritual growth, which is why prayer is given priority on this pilgrimage. This trip is not for those interested in simple sightseeing, commercial tourism of any kind or activities incompatible with pilgrimage (attending nightclubs).
IS THIS A CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE?
Yes. We sojourn to the roots of our Christian faith in Jordan, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Galilee, visiting the places sanctified by the presence of Jesus of Nazareth. Biblical readings and meditations at each Holy Place will make the Bible come alive and help us to understand the drama and beauty of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As we walk where God walked on earth, as we follow in His footsteps, we can encounter Jesus Christ in the places He made holy, to so become more conformed to Him. We also journey as pilgrims of an unbroken 2,000-year tradition of Christianity. Today this continuous tradition is maintained by the Mother Church of Jerusalem composed of local Palestinian Christian Arabs, the “living stones” of the Holy Land, whom we will encounter during our pilgrimage.
WHY IS THIS A CATHOLIC PILGRIMAGE?
It is also a Catholic pilgrimage because we seek to understand Salvation History and Divine Revelation from the unity of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition since they “form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church” (Dei Verbum, 10). The celebration of daily Mass, with the site-appropriate biblical readings, prayers and homilies will make the Holy Land feel like the “Fifth Gospel” as the Gospel come alive right where they took place. Daily praying of the Rosary where its mysteries took place will deepen the spiritual experience and our appreciation of Mary’s role in Salvation History. If possible, we will meet the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (Catholic Archbishop), join a Catholic parish for Sunday Mass, and fellowship will Catholics and other Christians. This pilgrimage is officially endorsed by the Catholic Diocese of Jerusalem and is consistent with the pilgrimage guidelines provided by the U.S. Catholic Bishops.
ARE THERE ECUMENICAL DIMENSIONS TO THIS PILGRIMAGE?
Yes, and intentionally so. It is rightly said in the Holy Land that “If the Christians don’t stand together, they will fall together.” Christian unity is very important, especially in the land where Jesus prayed that Christians “may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11). Since there are 13 officially recognized churches from the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant traditions, these are pointed out at key moments, especially in churches where there is shared sovereignty.
IS THIS AN INTER-RELIGIOUS TRIP?
No. Among other reasons, one purpose of this trip is to encounter, learn about, and support the indigenous Christian community of the Holy Land whose very future is at stake. Inter-religious dialogue is a noble endeavor, but it beyond the scope of this two-week trip.
WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVES OF THIS PILGRIMAGE?
The objectives are threefold. They are to…
- Visit Holy Places: We will visit holy places in Jordan like Mt. Nebo (where Moses viewed the Promised Land) and where St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus. In Palestine and Israel we will visit traditional holy sites of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection: Bethlehem, Nazareth and Galilee, and Jerusalem. Care is taken to visit other Christian towns that reflect the vibrant Christian heritage of the Holy Land.
- Meet local Christians: Pilgrims will enjoy time spent sharing one’s faith, worshipping together, having fellowship and eating traditional meals while enjoying warm Arab hospitality. These experiences help create bridges of understanding and love between Arab Christians and American Christians.
- Economically support local Christian community: Our pilgrimage attempts to bring maximum economic benefit to local Christian Palestinian and Jordanian shopkeepers, travel agents, guides and hotel operators.
I OFTEN READ OF THE TURMOIL IN THE HOLY LAND. WILL I BE SAFE?
YES! Your comfort and well-being are of paramount importance, to you, to us, and to everyone in the economically-vital tourist industry in the Holy Land. In fact, past pilgrims will attest that their personal safety never came into question, and they often say that they felt safer on pilgrimage than they do back home. Keep in mind, this pilgrimage is arranged by a Christian travel agency so that we use Christian-owned hotels, patronize Christian-owned stores and restaurants, have a private bus, are assisted by experienced local personnel and are led by a knowledgeable local Christian guide as well as by Fr. Alex who lived in the Holy Land for over a year.
HOW DO WE TRAVEL FROM ONE LOCATION TO THE NEXT?
We have a private, air-conditioned, very modern motor coach with a very friendly and accommodating driver.
WHAT IS THE COST OF THE PILGRIMAGE?
TBD. All expenses are included (round-trip airfare, border fees, 3 meals/day). A $500 deposit is required two months before departure and the full payment is due one month before departure. The price may vary as we base the overall cost on current airfares. We have worked extremely hard to keep costs at an absolute minimum. Our intent is to provide an affordable experience for all Christians pilgrims who wish to visit the land of our Savior.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO PREPARE FOR THE PILGRIMAGE?
We are ready and willing to address any and all questions you may have regarding our pilgrimage. For more information on a mandatory pilgrim orientation meeting, registration and payment terms, please call 248-514-1747 or e-mail us at [email protected].
TERRA SANCTA MINISTRIES
Come and follow in the footsteps of Jesus! “Come and see.”