SPONSORED BY OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS, HENDRA
WE read and hear about Jesus and the Holy Land, and imagine what Israel would look like mainly drawing from Bible stories and illustrations.
The Holy Land landscape is nothing like the Australian landscape.
Visiting the places where Jesus was born and raised, the important areas of his ministry and finally where he was crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended is the dream of every Christian.
A spokesperson for Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, Hendra, which organizes pilgrimages to the Holy Land, said “everyone who has visited the Holy Land would admit that it was really a moving experience”.
“After a return from their pilgrimage, people start to understand the Scriptures better since they have experienced the geographical and social settings,” the spokesperson said.
“Then the Scriptures start to live in them with fresh energy.”
“For the earth brings forth fruit of herself: first the blade, then the ear, after that the full grain in the ear.” (Mark 4:28)
The Hendra parish spokesperson said it was “amazing to see people from previous groups interested to go to Holy Land again”.
“A lady from a previous group went to visit the Holy Land last month for her second time with another group,” ther spokesperson said.
“It was a great time for her again, though; she came back with a great appreciation of the tour led by (Carmelites of Mary Immaculate) Father Paul Chackanikunnel (who is parish priest of Hendra Northgate).
“This is (Fr Chackanikunnel’s) fourth time visiting the Holy Land.
“All groups who have visited the Holy Land in previous years with Fr Paul are happy to recommend that as many people as possible experience it as they did.”
Fr Chackanikunnel said he was excited to accompany the pilgrimage of this year because of the “specially prepared” itinerary.
He has selected the most important places that every pilgrim should visit and connected them in such a convenient way so that travel from one place to the other is very timely and giving maximum time to enjoy and experience the locations.
The highlights of previous groups were the Nativity Church at Bethlehem, boat journey through the Sea of Galilee, touching the stone where Jesus’ Cross stood, Holy Sepulchre Church (Empty tomb of Jesus), Garden of Gethsemane and Assisi.
“It was a moving experience for couples when they renewed their marriage vows, and for widows, when they had a special prayer service conducted at Nain, where Jesus raised the only son of widow,” the parish spokesperson said.
“It varies from person to person according to their preparation and how they relate to the places.
“One thing is so sure, that everyone who visited Holy Land was moved at one point or at various places.
“It is special that this year the tour will visit Lanciano where the first Eucharistic Miracle took place, and the place of St Padre Pio.
“It was, and will be again this year, a lovely experience visiting the Papal Basilica and burial place of St Francis of Assisi, the Basilica of St Clare and her tomb and travelling through the landscapes of Assisi.”
The parish spokesperson said the security situation in the Middle East may discourage people from considering going on this pilgrimage “but our group did not encounter any problems even though the Israelis and Palestinians were in a tense stand-off at the time”.
“The areas to which the pilgrimage travels are not in the areas where trouble is occurring,” the spokesperson said.
“In general, Israel is safe as long as one is careful and listens to the local guide.
“This is the experience of Fr Paul’s tours; pilgrims set out very early in the morning to avoid hours-long queues and visit the most important places like Holy Sepulchre Church, and Calvary in the Old Jerusalem city or Nativity Church at Bethlehem.
“This is the situation for all tour groups and exemplifies the huge number of people visiting those holy places each day.
“The local tour guides have, in the experience of Fr Paul’s tours, been most efficient and informative, and guided pilgrims without difficulty or incident to all the locations on the tour.”
This pilgrimage, organised by the Hendra parish, is open for all who wish to visit Holy Land as part of their faith journey.
Last year’s pilgrimage included people from Townsville to the Gold Coast and there were enquiries from Roma and many other country parishes.
In this year of Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy year, a team of pilgrims is preparing to leave from Brisbane on October 27.
There are a few seats available for the Holy Land Tour 2016! Anyone interested can contact Fr Paul Chackanikunnel, the tour director on 0428 624 287 or Monica Johnson (parish secretary) on (07) 3268 3040, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the travel agent Guido Canale of Canale Travel Service Pty Ltd, Lutwyche, on (07) 3357 6444 or email@example.com.
This sponsored content has been provided by Our Lady Help of Christians parish Hendra for a pilgrimages feature. The content also appeared in our July 17, 2016 issue as paid content.