Holy Land Pilgrimage 2019: Reflections from Ignatian Educators

Photo courtesy of James CappabiancaPhoto c/o James Cappabianca

Participating in the pilgrimage to the Holy Land is very special to me. I feel as though this is a calling from Jesus for me to come and spend the next few days with him. I believe that this experience will help me deepen my faith, and I hope to share that with my colleagues and my students. As an alumna of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, I always hope to live my life and faith in such a way that current students can see Christ through me. I believe this experience will help me to do that. I am very grateful for this opportunity. 

-- Maria E. Luevano‑Salazar, Teacher
Cristo Rey High School, Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

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Growing up, Bethany was a place in the Bible, the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. In 2013, even if only for six weeks, it became my home, too. I played soccer in the street with the neighborhood children. I drank espresso between classes with the Italian sisters. I hung my clothes to dry on the rooftop in the warm sun. Like Jesus, I went to the tomb of Lazarus and walked down the hill to Jerusalem. 

Just over five years ago, I had the opportunity to spend time in Israel and Palestine as part of a biblical study program during graduate school. Since then, I have shared photos and stories about the places I visited in my work in the classroom, on retreats, and in presentations with my students and colleagues. In this small way, I am able to invite them to experience these places that are not just “back then” but are also “now.”

This pilgrimage comes at a special time in my life, as I am currently making the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (19th Annotation). As we depart on pilgrimage, I am beginning the second week, walking with Jesus not only in the Gospels, but also, literally, with my feet and accompanied by many other pilgrims who follow his way.

-- Lauren Hackman-Brooks
Chaplain, Loyola University Chicago academic medical campus


In the summer of 2008, I was offered an opportunity to take an Ignatian pilgrimage to Rome, Italy. I was extremely honored and excited at the thought of learning more about Saint Ignatius and visiting the places that helped cultivate his religious transformation. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend because my father, the late Deacon Wyatt L. Jones Jr., was in hospice care. My father was a deacon in the Catholic church and served the people of Detroit for over forty years. He also was a co-founder of Loyola High School. The morning of the pilgrimage, my father passed away. The Holy Spirit has a way of bringing things full circle. I now have an opportunity to walk the in the footsteps of Jesus and this is an experience that I will cherish forever. 

As I prepare for this life-changing journey, I am reminded of my father and his selfless pursuit to spread the gospel to the marginalized, to those who have no voice and the incarcerated. As principal of Loyola High School, I am responsible for the formation of approximately 150 young men who are in search of what Christ means to them. It is imperative that I periodically take some time to discern and re-energize. I want to take this time to intimately talk with God as he continues to work through me for my community. Jesus’ blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin; what an ultimate sacrifice. I hope that my time in the Holy Lands reminds me of how much more is required of me because I have been blessed to be in the position that I am.

Attending the pilgrimage and not knowing anyone else who is attending is refreshing. I hope to learn and deepen my faith by entering this journey with no expectations. I will be lead by the spirit to interact with people of various backgrounds and ultimately see God through them. I am thankful for this opportunity and will take full advantage of all that it affords. I've been asked by my family and friends if I was scared and the answer is simply no. God is not the architect of fear and I will never allow it to stop me from doing anything. As it is written in Jeremiah 29:11 "I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. It is in this spirit that I prepare for this journey.

Wyatt L. Jones III
Principal, Loyola High School Detroit


For as long as I can remember, I have had an acute sense of place and a deep interest in history. I am one of those people who touch a falling stone wall or stare at an old house and imagine the people of the past who lived their lives in and around the space. As I prepare for this trip, I feel tremendous excitement, tempered by the realization that I will soon be standing where Christ stood, seeing the world he saw and briefly living in the region he knew. I am truly looking forward to practicing Ignatian contemplation in the Holy Land, imagining myself in the gospel stories while actually being in the place they occurred.  Walking in the places I have read about all my life and being able to tuly imagine myself with Christ where he walked, spoke, died and rose from will be a deep spiritual experience. I hope to bring this spiritual experience back with me and to become more aware of the movement of the Spirit in my life. 

My professional life is such that there is rarely a quiet moment, yet I have significant responsibility for promoting the Jesuit, Catholic mission and identity of the educational institution where I work. Like many other organizations which were founded by religious communities, we are witnessing a decrease in the number of active Jesuits and recognize the urgent need for a stronger commitment from lay colleagues. I hope this opportunity will allow me some time to reflect more deeply on this difficult challenge and focus on the possibilities it creates.

Margaret (Peg) McCarthy, PhD
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Canisius College

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