What is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre?
Is it safe to travel to Israel?
We understand people's concern regarding security due to the way the news portrays the Middle East, but it is very safe to travel to Israel. Everyone who has traveled with us before is always amazed at just how safe they feel being there. The occasional trouble spots that we see on the news are not areas where tourist go. The joy of seeing and experiencing the Holy Land far outweighs the anxiety of travel, so don't let anxiety keep you from the trip of a lifetime. We are parents and we would not jeopardize our family by traveling some place where our lives were at risk. If you have concerned loved ones, assure them that they can follow your journey via the Internet through Facebook and our website where we post daily pictures of the pilgrims.
What if I don't have a roommate?
If you want to travel with us and the single supplement fee is a deterrent for you, go ahead and register at the double occupancy rate and most likely there is another person hoping to find a roommate as well. Closer to departure we pair up roommates by who registered first. If for some reason we can't find a roommate, you will not be obligated to go. So far we've never had that occur, so chances are good we'll find you a roommate or maybe you'll convince someone to go with you!
What is the weather like in January in Israel?
Weather in Israel can vary, so we recommend wearing layers. Be prepared for a rainy day or two with a hooded raincoat or an umbrella. We provide a packing list appropriate for the season after registration. Israel is similar to California in climate, so depending upon whether you are near the sea or in the mountains the temperature can vary per day. If you're from the Midwest, Israel in January is like autumn. Here is a packing list tips sheet.
Do you have any study resources that you recommend?
We supply our pilgrims with a study manual, a booklet written by Emily on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and brochures from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism (when available.) We also supply a bibliography with other helpful materials.
How many people travel with you on a pilgrimage?
Israeli Guide at Caesarea Maritima
We usually bring 4 buses of pilgrims to the Holy Land and we ensure that the whole group stays at the same hotels, eats meals together and arrives at holy sites together to have mass. Each bus has a priest and a great Israeli guide, and Jeff and Emily rotate through the buses, so if we talk about something on one bus, we will say the same on the other buses. When anyone gives a teaching, everyone can hear with an individual transmitter and ear piece.
Our pilgrimages are a great opportunity to make lasting friends with each bus taking on a personality of its own. At certain sites each bus is guided individually by their Israeli tour guide. We are very proud that each of these guides is very knowledgeable, helpful and attuned to the Catholic faith so each group has a similar experience.
What if you are not Catholic?
Mass at St. Peter Primacy
On each trip we usually have several who are not Catholic. They attend all activities with the group and so far we have never had anyone come away from the tour feeling they did not have a spiritual journey. Each spot where we celebrate mass is a significant holy site, and Jeff teaches the site's historical and biblical significance with spiritual insight. The beauty and spirituality of just being where Christ walked and talked is wonderful. The mass is a form of commemorating the spiritual significance of the Life of Christ as we visit the holy sites. Even though non-Catholics can't receive communion, the experience will be uplifting, and they are welcome to come to communion with arms crossed over their chest to receive a blessing from the priest. We also have prayer and meditation time on the Mt. of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
A non-Catholic would feel very welcome on our pilgrimages, especially if a good friend is accompanying him or her.