Following in the footsteps of the Master in the Holy Land

By Nadin Williams Ospino

Williams4Knowing and traveling to Israel, the blessed land where the history of our salvation occurred, will always be an unparalleled experience for those of us who have decided to follow Jesus in a closer and more intimate way.

This experience began on May 29, 2017, with eight seminarians who are from different dioceses of U.S studying at the Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wisc.  Also, there were two committed lay people. All of us were led by Monsignor Ross Shecterle and Dr. Patrick Russell.
We arrived to Jerusalem at the feast of Ramadan in the evening. The thing that struck me was to see the style of the houses that after 2000 years still retain many of the traditions found in the Holy Scriptures.

We visited the old city, the Wailing Wall, the Holy Sepulcher, the exteriors of the Oman Mosque and we stayed in San Pedro in Galicanto for two days. We did not miss the typical visit to the Dead Sea with a refreshing dip in its salty waters and the famous cave of Qumram, where several manuscripts appeared.

There are three religions that coexist in Jerusalem: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is tradition for a Muslim family to guard the keys of the church of the Holy Sepulcher. Paradoxically though Jerusalem means "city of peace," there is still political, military and religious tension. It was, however, a window into our Christian roots for us.

Another significant experience were visits to the cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth. In Bethlehem we visited the grotto of the nativity and the field of the shepherd. In Nazareth we were in the Basilica of the Annunciation and  took a tour of the village. Also, the particular thing of that Basilica is that in its exterior it contains mosaics of all the Marian invocations of the world.  I was very happy to have found Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, patroness of Colombia.

 The following days we met the Valley of Jezreel, Caesarea Maritima, the Sea of ​​Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Bethsaida, the Valley of Hulah, the Williams2JordanWilliams2 Valley and Mount Tabor. There the Gospel seemed to resonate most strongly in our hearts as we came into direct contact with the places where the Lord spoke and acted.

An unforgettable experience that crowned all the explanations of Dr. Russell was the week that we spent in the archaeological center of Magdala. There, we volunteered to excavate the land in search of treasured items from the time of Jesus: ancient coins, ceramic remains, jewels, glass and other artifacts that helped us rebuild history.

Finally we returned to Jerusalem and stayed in the Ecce Homo Convent. We visited the Mount of Olives, the Church of Our Father, the place where Jesus wept for Jerusalem, (called "Dominus Flevit") and the Basilica of Agony in Gethsemane. It reminded us that both the Christian life and our way of formation in the seminary pass through the Cross, but they are destined to the final triumph of the Resurrection, because we follow the living Christ who fills all our hopes.