A pilgrimage is a journey of faith, a journey that one takes to connect with their spirituality, and it’s an experience that cannot be replicated in any other way. The Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL) has been providing pilgrims with this unique experience for many years, and it’s a journey that leaves an indelible mark on the soul. In this blog, we will delve into the importance of experiencing a pilgrimage and highlight some of Deacon Tony Campise from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church’s personal experiences that set apart FFHL’s pilgrimage from any other group.

A pilgrimage is a journey that allows one to connect with their faith in a tangible way. It’s a journey that takes you to the very places where your faith originated and where the events that shaped your religion occurred. The pilgrimage to the Holy Land with FFHL is a journey that provides a unique experience to all who embark on it. Deacon Tony Campise, a pilgrim on one of FFHL’s recent pilgrimages, was struck by the power of the oral tradition of the Church and the Holy Spirit’s influence on the growth and believability of the process.

One of the unique experiences that FFHL provides is the opportunity to visit the Upper Room, the place where Jesus shared his last supper with his disciples. The winding path leading to the Upper Room offers a great place for reflection and contemplation of the events that would take place over the last few days of Jesus’ life. Deacon Tony was fascinated by the gift of the “Tree of Life,” a poignant reminder that life through death is very much in the near future.

Another highlight of the pilgrimage is the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu, where one can see the place where Peter denied Jesus three times. Deacon Tony was struck by the significance of this place and its views. He could look over the rail to see the trash dump that was the biblical place of Gehenna, the land still believed to be cursed and vacant to this day.

FFHL’s pilgrimage also offers the opportunity to visit the Christmas Hotel, where one can have a farewell lunch with delicious food and lively discussions. A free afternoon allows for a road trip to the beach in Caesarea by the Sea. The ruins of Herod await as one visits the amphitheater, his seaside palace, and one of many aqueducts he built to bring water to the city. Herod was quite the land developer, but Christians see him in a different light. The fresh sea air and the emerald and blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea are a perfect end to a wonderful experience.

The pilgrimage with FFHL is an experience of a lifetime, and it takes time to refresh and remember all that one has seen, heard, and tangibly visited. The magnitude of the event may not hit immediately, but Lent will never be the same again, and Holy Week will be an emotional event that perhaps one has not experienced before. Deacon Tony shares, “The restlessness of the soul will continue until one rests in His peace, but the journey of faith with FFHL will forever be a treasured memory.”

What makes FFHL’s pilgrimage unique is the focus on providing a deeply spiritual and religious experience. FFHL is committed to helping pilgrims connect with their faith and spirituality, and they do this by providing access to holy sites, masses and guided tours. But what sets FFHL apart is the attention to detail and the personalized approach to the pilgrimage experience. Deacon Tony’s experience with FFHL is a testament to this, and he encourages anyone who is considering going on a pilgrimage to take the next opportunity available. It is sure to be life-changing.

As a pilgrim who has recently experienced the transformative power of a Holy Land pilgrimage with the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), Deacon Tony can attest to the incredible impact that such an experience can have on one’s faith and spiritual journey.

Throughout the journey, pilgrims were able to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and witness firsthand the places where some of the most significant events of His life and ministry took place. From the Upper Room, to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, each site held deep spiritual significance and allowed them to connect with the history of our faith in a profound way.

But what truly sets FFHL’s pilgrimages apart from other groups is the unique perspective and insight provided by tour guide, Fr. Peter F. Vasko, OFM, President of FFHL. With Fr. Peter’s extensive knowledge of the Holy Land and the rich history of the Catholic Church, he is able to provide a deeper understanding of the sites pilgrims visit and their significance in the context of Christian faith.

From the tomb of King David to the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu, each stop on the pilgrimage is infused with meaning and context, allowing pilgrims to not only witness the physical locations of these events, but to truly understand their importance in the grand narrative of salvation history.

And while every pilgrimage must come to an end, the impact of the experiences will continue to resonate for years to come. As pilgrims return home and settle back into their daily routines, they carry with us the memories and lessons learned on this journey and are forever changed by the grace and beauty of the Holy Land.

For anyone considering a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, FFHL is committed to promoting peace and supporting the Christian communities of the Holy Land. Additionally, FFHL’s unique approach to pilgrimage and dedication to providing a truly transformative experience, positions them truly as a leader in the world of Catholic pilgrimage.

As you continue on your journey of faith, may you always remember the beauty and power of the Holy Land, and the incredible impact that a pilgrimage can have on your spiritual life.