Catholic school principals join pilgrims in Holy Land
Catholic school principals are following in the footsteps of Jesus as they travel to Jordan and the Holy Land amongst a number of senior Catholic Education staff.
After several years of delay due to COVID, the 18-day pilgrimage finally began last week with over 30 participants. Led by Archdiocesan parish priest and Vicar General Fr Richard Thompson, the once-in-a-lifetime trip will provide pilgrims with spiritual and community renewal with visits to Petra, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Nazareth and Jericho on the itinerary.
St John the Apostle Primary School, Florey, principal Matthew Garton said he was carrying thoughts of his family, school community and friends during the two-week pilgrimage through Jordan and Israel.
“To share this journey with such good company and to have the time to connect deeply with the faith and God I have known since I was a small child will be an extraordinary experience,” he said.
“The first day was just the beginning of a great journey. We had a fantastic tour guide, Fadi, whose knowledge of the political, religious and social history of Jordan was a real privilege to listen to. We’re with Fadi all week! I’m looking forward to learning much more.”
Trinity Catholic College, Goulburn, principal Gaye McManus said the group had arrived in Amman – a beautiful city with stunning simplicity in its architecture and colour.
“Red poppies are blooming everywhere. The spring is glorious,” she said.
“Today, I experienced an Orthodox Easter Sunday Mass celebrated in Arabic at the Miraculous Shrine of Our Lady on the Mount at Anjara. Outside the shrine is the entrance to a small Catholic primary school. I travelled halfway across the world and things feel very familiar. I am happy and at peace.”
St Thomas Aquinas Primary School, West Belconnen, principal Leah Taylor said Fr Richard and Fr Josef had concelebrated the mass, which was held in both Arabic and English.
“We were all overwhelmed by the hospitality shown to us. We were even given Easter eggs!” she said.
“We then travelled to the ancient ruins of Jerash. Jerash was one of the ten towns titled the Decapolis. It is one of the best-preserved Roman sites in the region. The town lies between Amman (known in ancient times as Philadelphia) and Damascus and it was amazing to be able to walk along the very same road that ancient travellers during Jesus’ time would have walked along.”
Mr Garton agreed, saying the walk made him realise they had only just scratched the surface of the ancient land and history.