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The Pilgrims

Pilgrims at Mass in DalmanuthaSeven Jesuits have just returned from a long-planned pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Donal Neary and Derek Cassidy had gone ahead to prepare the way for them, checking on places and transport. The picture shows Charlie Davy, Peter Sexton, Derek Cassisy and John Guiney offering Mass at Dalmanutha, where Jesus prepared breakfast for his disciples after the Resurrection. Read Donal’s account below: Eventually at 2.15 pm on Tuesday October 25th the bedraggled Jesuits Davy, Guiney, Kim and Sexton arrived in Tel Aviv, after being delayed in Prague by fog and the Czech Airlines who couldn’t fly them out for 2 days. Donal Neary, Derek Cassidy and Tom Casey (now lecturing in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem), by now the veterans of the pilgrimage, were overjoyed to see them. A quick tour of Bethlehem followed and then a lovely few days in Galilee.

The pilgrimage/retreat would have taken in prayerful visits to the usual sites of Jerusalem but instead we left the holy city for the wilderness and Galilee on Wed Oct 25th. Visits to the Mount of Temptations, Jericho, the Dead Sea and Qumran of the Dead Sea scrolls took up the first day. Our lodgings in Pilgerhaus on the shores of Galilee gave the opportunity for many a quiet moment at sunrise or other times.

We commemorated the loaves and the fishes with Mass led by Peter Sexton at Dalmanutha (pictured here). We recalled miracles of sight and healing at Bethsaida, and the breakfast on the beach at Tabgha. We prayed at the house of Joseph, remembering especially our fathers, and fathers we know. A visit to the reconstructed first-century Nazareth Village made immediate the surroundings of the life of the boy and young man Jesus. Masses at Tabor and Cana, led by Derek Cassidy and Charlie Davy, were memorable. And we will always remember baritone Tom Casey’s operatic rendering of ‘When I behold the wondrous Cross’ at Cana.

Apart from that, lots of good chat, common prayer, good sharing and laughter made up our days. Our prayers always remembered John Dunne whose illness prevented him being on the trip. Accommodation was rated from very good to fair, so Donal Neary has noted a few places of eating and sleeping which will not be on any future pilgrimage!

Tom Casey adds: – What I enjoyed most was our faith sharing at Eucharists and the many nourishing conversations: I got a lot from them. It was obviously great to see all of what we did; I would never have got myself organized to go to half of those sites on my own. But it was the quality of our sharing and time together that stand out. Charlie Davy writes – There were some special moments for me too but also as a group. “Et verbum caro factum est” came home with greater awe and that was lived out for so many years in the ordinariness of Nazareth. Perhaps the ordinary is the key to godliness in our lives too!

A further trip of Jay-lay pilgrims is planned by Donal Neary with the Partners in Mission office for June next.