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Creating Community in Pilgrimage
by Scott Scherer
One of the aspects of pilgrimage I love the most is creating opportunities for our groups to interact, support, and build relationships with the people in the Christian communities we visit. Whether it’s attending Mass at a local church and bringing gifts to support the church’s school, or offering a day of the trip to volunteer on a local church project, these activities enable our pilgrims to experience their faith and the local people and culture in a very intimate way.
On a recent March trip to the Holy Land, one of our groups, led by Fr. Patrick Sheridan, O.S.B., and organized by John D’Isacco and Mary Hornickel, was welcomed to Bethlehem University.
During their visit, the pilgrims met with four ambassador students and, among other insights, gained an understanding of the excellent relationship between Christian and Muslim students at the school. You can read more about the experience in this brief article.
When our pilgrim groups take the time to meet and interact with the local people, both sides receive so much. Our pilgrims get a window into the everyday life of the local folks. And the local Christians – who are a shrinking minority in the Holy Land — feel supported by pilgrims from a foreign land who took time out to come and visit with them.
Perhaps you’d like to arrange such a visit on your group’s next pilgrimage to the Holy Land?
Scott Scherer is president of Catholic Travel Centre, which provides customized pilgrimages for more than 400 Catholic organizations across the United States.