2017

Dear Pilgrims,

 It is some time since I updated the news from Faith Journeys but many have been asking so I am sending out this update.

Turkey

 First I want to say how very sad it is to hear of the situation in Turkey, which prohibits any groups traveling there for now. How we cherish the many friends we made in that wonderful country and our prayers go out to Erdal, Okan and all who helped us come to know and appreciate Turkey.

 

Holy Land

 We have continued to lead many pilgrimages each year to the Holy Land and each one has been deeply moved by the experience in this land of our foundational faith. We have continued to support the Creche for abandoned babies in Bethlehem and are very grateful for the generous support for these young children. Our relationship with the staff and students of Our Lady of Fatima school has grown and our visits, and sponsorships of so many students is much appreciated by the Latin Patriarchate .We were saddened by the sudden death of Fr Faysil, director of education for Palestine and Israel .We are now working with his replacement ,Fr Eyal Twal ,whom we knew from our Lady of Fatima parish.

 

Rome Assisi

 We have been very happy with our new pilgrimage to Italy

"From Francis of Assisi to Francis of Rome”. This journey in the spirituality of Francis has been a very rich experience for us all. Our visits to the Vatican and encounters with Pope Francis have brought us to a true understanding of the impact of St Francis of Assisi on the ministry of Pope Francis with his compassionate care for the poor and oppressed.

 

Ireland

We have developed a very fine journey to Ireland following the saints, poets and scholars of this beautiful country. Traveling around the coast of Ireland from Dublin back to Dublin has been richly spiritual, cultural, musical  and fun!

 April 20-30 Ireland Land of Saints and Scholars with Fr Keith Wallace through Connaissance Travel

 

Holy Land

November 14-25 with Fr Michael Machacek   of Nativity Parish through Connaissance Travel

 

Rome Assisi    October 27 -Nov 5

Holy Land.      February. 2018        March, 2018

 

Ireland           May,  2018

 

In Memoriam

We continue to place a stone in the Valley of the Shadow of death for deceased pilgrims as well as to hang a star for them on our tree in Shepherds Field in Bethlehem. Please let me know if you know of any one from your group who has died so that they can be included and remembered in these very sacred sites.

 

Please let me know if you want to participate in any upcoming faith journeys or if you have any questions to pose to me.

With every prayer and blessing for a wonderful 2017.

Kitty 416 2017375

 

 

 

 

2013

 

I’m back in Canada after almost six months of consecutive pilgrimages to the Holy Land as well as one in the Way of Saint Paul to Turkey.  It was wonderful to journey with so many special people, and especially to witness the faith growth as the Gospel in all its richness was opened to us.

 

I was especially happy that some groups – St Bonaventure’s, St Raphael and the Ladies and Knights of the Holy Sepulchre groups chose to stay in Bethlehem.  This was a wonderful experience for us and certainly we know that our fellow Catholics in Bethlehem received the benefit of our presence there.

 

A group of nine of the Holy Sepulchre had the added privilege of experiencing the Papal visit.  We all pray that the impact of the Holy Father’s witness there will further developments for peace with justice in the Land of our foundational story.

 

Our journey to Turkey in the Year of St Paul was very enriching.  Again we have developed relationships with the tiny Christian communities there, offering them support and encouragement in this land which first cradled Christianity.

 

I arrived back in time for the funeral of Barbara Hiff, a pilgrim on the March break Teachers group last year.  In the past year Barbara was nourished in her sickness and dying by her journey to the Holy Land.  We offer condolences to her young family and to her best friend Marie who encouraged her to travel the Jesus Journey with her.  A star will be placed for Barbara in Shepherd’s field and a stone left in her memory in the Judean Wilderness.

 

 

Please Note:

  1. There is a possibility that Gideon Shor and Yvonne from Overseas Travel will be coming to Toronto in late August.  If this materializes we will have a grand reunion for all Faith Journey pilgrims.  Details will follow.

 

We dream that one day Gabriella from Bethlehem will also visit us.

 

  1. Futures for Children

Thanks to all who are supporting Sr Sophie with the Bethlehem orphanage and those sponsoring children at the Latin Patriarchate School in Beit Sahour.

Again we appreciate the services of the accountant Eamonn Dorgan and Sue Walsh for dealing with all the paperwork and communication.

 

 

 

Wishing you every blessing and joy this summer

 

Kitty McGilly

Website: www.faithjourney.ca

Email: kmcgilly@rogers.com

Phone: (416) 201-7375

Cell: (416) 400-2478

Cottage: (613) 478-6878


Article from the Catholic Register, May 2009

Much of the media focus on the recent papal visit to the Holy Land was an evaluation of the pontiff’s relationships with Muslims and Jews. However, in the land of  Christianity’s foundation, Christian church members wanted only to know that they are not forgotten, not alone and that their story of struggle is known by their spiritual leader.

They dreamed in hope that the visit would result in some good news for them.

Nine members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Toronto joined me on a 12-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land that was extended to include the papal visit. We were part of the papal entourage of the Latin Patriarchate and, consequently, had VIP status with close, privileged participation in all the religious events.

What astounded the nine who had already experienced the sacred sites in the biblical and sacramental journey through Nazareth, Bethlehem, Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem was the radical change in environment after the arrival of the Holy Father. All roads were blocked, the Old City was out of bounds without special permits, stores were shut down and 23,000 police and soldiers filled Jerusalem.

At the Mass in Gethsemane, Israeli forces almost outnumbered the congregation. Many local Christians were turned away without tickets and others opted out because of the roadblocks and the long by-foot routes. It was mainly the able-bodied tourists and dignitaries who had access. Having been present for the visit of Pope John Paul II in 2000 this was a very different reality.

The visit of the Holy Father to the  West Bank was even more revealing. Having brought over 40 groups in the past four years to Bethlehem, I was aware of the excessive security checks and procedures to enter the city. This time, however, only two minutes drive from the regular Bethlehem entrance through the heavily guarded gate at the security wall, we were re-routed a 20-minute drive down the Hebron Road, one generally accessed only by the military.

Without having to view the wall (referred to by Israel as a security fence) we entered Manger Square, the location of the Mass. All surrounding shops were closed. Peddlers who only recently were given some hopeful prospects with the increase in tourism were gone from the streets. In fact, this was a day of lost business rather than a boost, as they expected. To quote a leading Israeli newspaper, HaAretz: “Most of the people were tourists, journalists and Palestinian security forces working in co-ordination with Israeli forces.”

Yet, true to the Gospel reality that large numbers and high positions are not what counts, I believe the people of Bethlehem saw some glimmer of hope from their spiritual leader. To quote Gabriella, a Palestinian guide restricted for eight years to Bethlehem: “We do not focus on the wall or the negatives. We know Jesus came for us — the poor, the oppressed, the imprisoned. God will always be with us to protect us, and we have hope that the Holy Father will hear us.”

And that is the message the Holy Father did give to the Christians of Palestine — at each Mass and each gathering, his support was stronger. He responded to a courageous introduction by His Beatitude Fouad Twal by acknowledging the many difficulties facing the diminishing Christian communities here, speaking of their imprisonment and their imposed poverties.

Yet, it was in Bethlehem, the “little” town of “greatness,” that the Holy Father told the people what they needed to hear. He assured them he knew their story, that he had come to stand with them in their pain and suffering. He offered particular concern for the people of Gaza, amid much applause. He met afterwards with the small contingent from Gaza who had a day pass to be present. The Holy Father also welcomed one-day pilgrims from the nearby  West Bank city of Ramallah.

But it was the visit to the Al Aida refugee camp that made the most impact. Despite a huge military presence, the wall could not be hidden this time and the Holy Father spoke out against it. Calling the structure “a symbol of stalemate” he prayed for it to come down — and soon.

So, was this Pope’s visit good news for the poor? It is interesting that the Gospel readings at the sites of the public Masses were stories of the lowly being raised up — Mary in Nazareth, the Shepherds in Bethlehem, and Mary of Magdala being the first witness of the Resurrection. But only time will tell the effectiveness of the visit of Pope Benedict.

We must continue to pray with him that our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land “will at last enjoy the peace, freedom and stability that has eluded you for so long.” We pray too that this visit of the Holy Father will shed new light on the reality of life for Christians in Israel and Palestine. Lest we forget!

(McGilly operates Faith Journeys , a Toronto company specializing in biblical and sacramental pilgrimages to the Holy Land.)