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America StaffMarch 03, 2018
Church of the Holy Sepulchre


“A pilgrim travels differently, always in a pilgrimage there is a change in mind and a change in heart.” —John O’Donohue.

As a pilgrim I have come full circle walking in Jesus’ footsteps in the Holy Land from Jesus’ nativity in Bethlehem, his “hidden years” growing up in Nazareth, his ministry in Galilee, his passion and finally Jesus’ resurrection, celebrated with Easter Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Although I know that Jesus has been with us pilgrims, I am wondering: How can I take this experience home with me? With God’s grace and with humility, prayer will help me to act and also be kind and patient with friends, family, and community.

What did I learn on this journey as a pilgrim that has changed my mind and heart? Thanks to America and my community of pilgrims for sharing their knowledge, faith, and heartache, and finally love for all.

We have become a family of pilgrims transformed today by Christ’s passion as we walked Via Dolorosa while reading the Gospels, praying and reflecting on each of the 13 stations.

We prayed for those we have lost in this life, as well as those who are carrying heavy crosses, especially my dear friends with cancer, alcohol and opioid addiction, a bone marrow transplant and lymphoma. i met a new friend, Claire, a Catholic living in Palestine who is struggling with the challenge of living in Bethlehem, and who feels marginalized and lives in fear for her family’s lives. She puts her trust in God and asks for our prayers for the Christians in Palestine.

The Easter Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre gave me hope for peace for all persecuted people. We ended our pilgrimage at the Western Wall where i was moved by the devout Jewish people of faith praying. I prayed for peace at the wall—peace in Israel and in the world.

Finally, I feel gratitude for the graces and blessings I received on this pilgrimage, with a new love of my fellow pilgrims and deep love of Jesus for being present and alive within us. Now, my challenge is to bring his love with me as I look at each person, see Jesus, and hear his call.

—Cheryl McCarthy


Updates from the Pilgrimage: 

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