(CNA/EWTN News).- An upcoming twenty-day Holy Land pilgrimage for priests and religious aims at being a renewal program to help them become more effective in ministry, according to one of the pilgrimage’s coordinators.
“The main highlights of the program are a thorough orientation by Biblical experts, a detailed pilgrimage in the footprints of the disciples to the nooks and corners of Holy Land and a encountering a spiritual retreat experience,” Fr. Tojy Jose, OFM, said Feb. 6.
“It provides an opportunity to revitalize one’s consecrated life and re-ignite one’s commitment to the mission by having a similar experience as the disciples on the road to Emmaus,” he told CNA.
“Hearts Aflame: walking with Jesus in his land” will take place April 21 – May 10, and is organized by the Franciscans of the Holy Land and the Salesian Pontifical University of Jerusalem.
Fr. Jose explained the pilgrimage is meant to help priests retreat into a ‘spiritual Emmaus’, inspired by the Gospel of Luke where the two disciples of Jesus said, “Were not our hearts aflame within us while he was talking to us on the road, and opened the Scriptures to us.”
A $2,500 fee includes expenses during the pilgrimage, as well as return airfare from the airports of Bangalore, Cochin, Delhi, and Mumbai in India.
Fr. Jose explained that seminars will be held in English by eminent scholars such as Fr. David Neuhaus, SJ; Fr. Lionel Goh, OFM; Fr. Piotr Zelazko; Fr. Pier Giorgio Gianazza, SDB. Topics discussed will include biblical history and geography; Jewish culture and politics; early Christian history; priestly renewal; and spirituality of the Holy Land.
Meetings with Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem and with the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land are also scheduled.
A retreat on discipleship will be held at the site of the Visitation and the birthplace of St. John the Baptist.
Fr. Jose emphasized the program is meant to integrate study and prayer, with time alloted for personal study, reflection, and prayer.
Cardinal George Alencherry, Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, endorsed the pilgrimage, calling it “a beautiful programme” and asking that “may many be attracted by this project and let all the organizers succeed in executing this project.”