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Pilgrimage with a difference


Nine parishes of the western deanery have combined to sponsor a two week pilgrimage to the Holy Land in October, accompanied by Fr Maurice Shinnick who recently retired as parish priest of Croydon Park.

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The pilgrimage is open to anyone across the Archdiocese and there is an optional three-day extension to visit Paray-le-Monial in France, the town of the ‘Sacred Heart’, for the celebrations marking the feast of St Margaret Mary on October 16.

Fr Shinnick said a pilgrimage to the land of Jesus’ earthly life enabled parishioners to read and understand the Scriptures in a new way and to be in touch with Jesus and his people.

“We become connected with that constant stream of pilgrims who have walked in the footsteps of Jesus since his own time,” he said.

Referring to safety concerns as a result of recent difficulties and tensions in the Middle East, Fr Shinnick said in many ways this was no different to the time of Jesus himself when he lived in a land occupied by the foreign power of Rome.

He said the dwindling community of Christians in the Holy Land repeatedly asked of the rest of the Church, “come and visit us”.

“They are full of such courage and determination to remain faithful to Jesus, therefore we have much to learn from them for the strengthening of our own faith,” he said.

Highlights of the pilgrimage will be a visit to the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus in Jordan, seeing in the water the foundations of a fourth century church, and renewing baptism promises.

In Nazareth the group will visit the excavations and 1st century remains beneath the convent complex of the Sisters of Nazareth, known as St Joseph’s House.

Mass will be celebrated each day at sacred sites, including Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Mt Tabor and Mt Carmel.

Five nights in Jerusalem enables the pilgrims to soak up the atmosphere of the Holy City and to experience the liturgical traditions of both the Eastern and Western Churches. In the evening, pilgrims will see Christianity’s most sacred church locked by two Muslim families – a tradition of 500 years.

A visit to the last Christian village in the Holy Land, Taybeh, will include meeting the parish priest and learning first-hand the struggle of being Christian in the Holy Land.

For those with a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, there is the option to extend the pilgrimage to visit the French town where Jesus revealed his love to St Margaret Mary, and to be there for her feast day. This small town, with its splendid 12th century Romanesque basilica, is one of peace and beauty.

 Bookings need to be made through Harvest Journeys before the end of June. For more information call 1800 819 156 or or Fr Shinnick at




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