If you’ve ever dreamed of having the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we highly suggest making it a priority. Not only will you come home from your faith journey transformed; you will encounter the love of Christ in a deeper way by walking in the Savior’s footsteps. Witnessing the Holy Sites firsthand is sure to bring a whole new reality to the life of Christ and bring the Scriptures to life.
Although COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the tourism industry in Palestine this year forcing inbound travel to a complete halt, our Fall 2019 pilgrimage was certainly one to remember for Grace Stringer and her son David.
Grace and David were among a group of Priests, Sisters and parishioners from St. Hyacinth Church in Amarillo, TX who joined FFHL’s Fall 2019 Pilgrimage. Grace reflects, “It renewed my gratitude for God’s love and mercy and for leading me to this place at exactly this time in my life and in history. It is beyond words.” She and David had the opportunity to experiencing the steps where Jesus trod, view the Sea of Galilee, walk into the Crucifixion site where Jesus was taken down from the Cross and also touch the Holy Sepulchre. “It took my breath away and left me feeling like time stood still,” she says.
One of the most memorable parts of Grace’s visit was sharing this sacred time with her son. With the recent passing of David’s father, the two were able to create once-in-a-lifetime memories with one another, and often during the pilgrimage reflected together how much his father would have enjoyed this extraordinary adventure. Grace shared that before her husband passed, he would tell them that, ‘there is a thin curtain between here and the hereafter’. Those echoing words brought comfort for both David and Grace, as they believed, “Dad was right alongside with us.” The trip was a healing experience for both of them.
Significant events on the pilgrimage included the Masses that brought each experience to life. “The Mass celebrations touched my heart in the calmness and peacefulness and in the message He gave to me. I felt His unconditional love,” she says. Some of the greatest recollections of Grace and David’s pilgrimage experience was walking to the Old City to the Holy Sepulchre site at dawn and being able to spend time in prayer there, as well as the Crucifixion site. “As we were getting ready to leave, we heard some of the most beautiful, heavenly angelic music,” she recalls. “We turned to see where it was coming from, and saw monks praying and singing at the chapel of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. We stopped in our tracks, listened, and were mesmerized. We could have stayed there for a long time–it was heavenly. I know God intended this for us and I am forever thankful.”
Additional travel highlights included the site where Jesus was tempted, the Mount of Olives where Jesus prayed, the cemetery, and the Temple Mount.
Reflecting back on the whole experience, Grace felt she was very fortunate to learn about the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land and how deeply involved the Foundation is in so many aspects of the Holy Land. There is a dwindling number of Catholic and Christians in the Holy Land and an increased danger of losing our Holy sites. Because of this, Grace implores all Christians to realize how interconnected we are and should be.
“Since coming back, I have recommended this pilgrimage to many people,” says Grace after experiencing a pilgrimage to the Holy Land first hand. “It is a life-changing trip to be able to experience more closely Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. I have been able to experience His love in a more profound way during Mass now. To be able to transport myself mentally to those Holy places takes on a new meaning and nearness to our earthly experience. “
Registration for the Fall 2021 Pilgrimage to the Holy Land is now open. Visit our pilgrimage page for registration information and to view our media gallery of pilgrimage photos.
Learn more about how you can be a part of preserving the Living Stones in the Holy Land here.