Tag Archive for: Holy Land

Church of St. Anne – Birthplace of the Virgin Mary

Are you ready to explore the Christian pilgrimage experience in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Apostles and the Saints?

This week’s Journey of Hope takes us to the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem in the Holy Land. Your tour guides are Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox, both with over 25 years of experience in leading groups of pilgrims.

Travel within the ancient walls of Jerusalem, near the Temple Mount, between the Lions Gate the Antonian Fortress where Jesus was judged by Pontius Pilate. Find out about the history of the current Church. Learn more about Mary’s life and meet her parents Joachim and Anne.

Also discussed will be the architecture of the Church and what makes it so unique….explore the two levels of the Church as well as the area surrounding the Church, which includes the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus cured the paralytic.

Jewel for the Journey:

“Happy is he who lives and dies under the protection of the Blessed Virgin.”  St. John Vianney


LPJ.org Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

We recommend to you the website LPJ.org, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is the Diocese of Jerusalem which includes the Palestinian Territories, the State of Israel, Jordan and the Island of Cypress nearby. The Latin Patriarch is like the ‘archbishop’ of the Holy Land. He is in charge of all the Roman Catholics in the Holy Land.

Discover what’s going on in our ‘Mother Church’ of the Holy Land! This website gives news about Bethlehem and Christmas in the Holy Land, including the Latin Patriarch’s Christmas message. We recommend regularly checking the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Visit LPJ.org

The Real Bethlehem

As we prepare for Advent and Christmas, our nativity scenes are coming out of storage and into our everyday lives. We turn our hearts and minds to that ‘little town’ where Christ was born. What is the REAL Bethlehem like? Today, we will share this beautiful city and its people with you!


Holy Land Rosary - Meditations on the Gospel Prayer by Deacon Tom Fox

Holy Land Rosary Booklet by Deacon Tom Fox










Deacon Tom Fox has written a Holy Land Rosary booklet which is available from Pilgrim Center of Hope.  This 80-page booklet includes meditations written by him, photos of the Holy Land, the history and explanation of the Rosary. The Rosary Booklet price is $9.95; all proceeds support this evangelization ministry.  Call us now for your order at 210-521-3377.

The Land Sanctified By Jesus

Christianity uniquely claims that God purposefully entered into human history, not being contained to legend, but walking, talking, and eating among us in the cities of Palestine.

We can visit these cities and walk in the footsteps of Jesus. After returning from leading back-to-back pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Mary Jane Fox talks with three phone guests from past PCH pilgrimages about their experiences.

Jerusalem - Holy Land

Prayer Service for Peace In the Middle East

It can be overwhelming to read the headlines from Iraq, Syria, Israel and Palestine. So many have died as a result of war and genocide, and so many are now fleeing from the terrors sweeping through their homelands.

We are called to hope in Christ, who absorbs all of the world’s sin and transforms it into radiating love. We are called to unite in compassion, to help our brothers and sisters in need, especially in these most dire situations. We have confidence in Jesus, who assured us that prayer and fasting can drive out demons.

Mary Jane and Deacon Tom Fox hosted a special prayer service for peace in the Middle East August 11, 2014.

Related Resources

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Website
Franciscan Holy Land Website

Want to show your solidarity with Christians in the Middle East? Wearable Jerusalem Cross pins are available at the Pilgrim Center of Hope for a $5 donation. All proceeds will benefit the Church in the Middle East.  Contact us for your Jerusalem Cross pin.

Prayer to Our Lady of Jerusalem

O Mary Immaculate, gracious Queen of Heaven and Earth, we beseech you to turn a pitying glance on the Holy Land, which more than any other land belongs to you, and from there you have given the Redeemer to the world. Watch, therefore, with special protection over your native country, bring Peace and Justice to the people of the Holy land.

Obtain for us all the grace to serve the Lord in sanctity and justice during all the days of our life, so that by the merits of Jesus with your motherly aid, we may pass at last from this earthly Jerusalem to the splendors of the heavenly one.

Our Lady of Jerusalem, pray for us. Amen.

Blood Brothers - Elias Chacour

Blood Brothers

“Blood Brothers” by Archbishop Elias Chacour (book)

As a child, Elias Chacour lived in a small Palestinian village in Galilee. The townspeople were proud of their ancient Christian heritage and lived at peace with their Jewish neighbors. But in 1948 and ’49 their idyllic lifestyle was swept away as tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed and nearly one million were forced into refugee camps. An exile in his native land, Elias began a years-long struggle with his love for the Jewish people and the world’s misunderstanding of his own people, the Palestinians. How was he to respond? He found his answer in the simple, haunting words of the Man of Galilee: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

In Blood Brothers Chacour blends his riveting life story with historical research to reveal a little-known side of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the birth of modern Israel. He touches on controversial questions such as: What behind-the-scenes politics touched off the turmoil in the Middle East? What does Bible prophecy really have to say? Can bitter enemies ever be reconciled? In a world of tension and terror, this book offers hope and insight that can help each of us learn to live at peace.

Originally published by Chosen Books in 1984 and now expanded with a new introduction by the author, a new foreword by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, and a “Since Then” epilogue by writer David Hazard, this compelling book offers readers hope-filled insight into living at peace in the most volatile region of the world.


You can obtain a copy of Blood Brothers through Pilgrim Center of Hope for a $10 donation.

Want to show your solidarity with Christians in the Middle East? Wearable Jerusalem Cross pins are available at the Pilgrim Center of Hope for a $5 donation. All proceeds will benefit the Church in the Middle East.

Contact us to obtain Blood Brothers or a Jerusalem Cross pin.

Meet a Jordanian Catholic

What is it like to be a Catholic in a mostly Muslim country?

Find out this week, when we interview Bassima Sam’an, a native of Jordan, and an active member of the Jordanian Catholic community. Mrs. Sam’an holds degrees in Theology and Business Administration, and writes for several Arabic/Christian and public newspapers.  She serves on the Management Board for the Christian Hope Fund in the Holy Land, and is a member of several social committees dealing with women’s rights and family issues.

Mrs. Sam’an participated in a Vatican conference called Woman and Man: The Humanum in Its Entirety hosted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, where she spoke on the subject of “Woman in the face of fundamentalism and violence.”


  • Website for the “Diocese” of the Holy Land, The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
  • Learn about the Church in Jordan by visiting Father Rifat Bader’s news website, www.abouna.org. (Abouna means ‘Father.’) The website is in Arabic. However, if you click on this link, Google will give you a rough translation of the website. We met Abouna Rifat Bader when we visited his parish during a pilgrimage and celebrated Mass with him in Amman, Jordan. He is the Vatican Radio Correspondent for Jordan.
  • Visit the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) for news and information on Christians in the Holy Land




Holy Land

Forgiveness in the Holy Land

This week we spoke with two guests straight from the Holy Land – an Israeli and a Palestinian, who gave presentations around San Antonio about personal loss and their experience with forgiveness.

Ali Abu Awwad: Parents Circle – Families Forum, Project Manager

Ali Abu Awwad was born in 1972 in Hebron, Palestine.  The story of his family is like that of most Palestinian people, his father and all his family had to leave their village in 1948, since then they became refugees.

Ali’s mother was arrested in 1982 by the Israeli Army for a period of six months.  From then his family became active in the struggle for an independent democratic Palestinian State.  In the first ‘Intifada’ , his mother, brothers and he were arrested because of their activities in the struggle towards freedom.   Ali was in an Israeli prison for four years and was released after the Oslo agreement, which, he said gave them the hope for a peaceful solution with the Israeli people.  They believed in this agreement and started with others to build the Palestinian State and society which was interrupted by the second ‘Intifada’.

Ali joined the Parents Circle – Families Forum after his brother Yousef was killed by Israeli soldiers.  His brother Yousef Abu Awwad was 31 years old, married with two children and lived in Beith Ummar.  On November 16th, 2000 at a check point near the village he was interacting with an Israeli soldier, who subsequently ended this meeting with an un-armed Palestinian by shooting him in the head and killing him.  Ali received the terrible message of his death while he was hospitalized in Saudi Arabia after being shot in the knee by an Israeli settler.

Contrary to pressures from various groups and individuals who came to express their condolences, Ali decided that revenging his brothers’ death would not ease his pain or bring his brother back.  He thought the greatest tribute he could pay to his dead brother, his family and to his people would be to work to stop the cycle of violence and bloodshed.

Today Ali lives in Beit Ummar – Hebron, Palestine with his wife and two children.

Ali’s family and his brothers family joined the Parents Circle – Families Forum in 2001, and since then they have been working for peace and reconciliation between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

Says Ali, “My duty as a Palestinian is to show the Israeli people that we have a just case and this can only take place when we stop the cycle of violence.  I believe that in order to have a just peace, Israelis and Palestinians should sit as equals at the negotiation table and work together to achieve a Peace agreement, free of violence from both sides.”

Yuval Rahamim: Parents Circle – Family Forum, Member

Yuval Rahamim was born in 1959 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Both his parents migrated to Israel as children and took part in establishing the state of Israel. The family moved in the 1960s to a small village in the Sharon area where they become farmers, specializing in growing strawberries and exporting the produce to Europe.

In spring 1967, Abraham, Yuval’s father was called for his reserve military unit due to the tension that was building up along the Israeli borders. Shortly after, on June 6th, the war broke. The war was over after only six days, thus its name “The Six Day War”. During the war Israel occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, the Jordanian West Bank of the Jordan River and the Syrian Golan Heights. The swift victory put the young Israel in a state of euphoria but for Yuval’s family there was no joy since the father Abraham was killed on the second day of the war.

Yuval’s mother was not able to handle the disaster- taking care of the three kids, her expected new baby, the farm and her own grief was just too much. So at the age of eight Yuval was sent to a boarding school. As a teenager he decided a military career will be the best outlet for his feelings of revenge so he joined the military academy and became an officer in the Israel Defense Forces [IDF]. After six years in service Yuval left the army, got married, had three kids and pursued a career in communications and High Tech. Over time his views and motivation regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict transformed from his personal tragedy and rage, to a firm determination that the tragedies, killings and hate on both sides must stop. He needed to take on an active role in this process.

With this determination, Yuval set up a group of Israelis, both Arab and Jews that wanted to create together a new vision of peace for the Middle East. That year was 2009. At the same time, Yuval joined The Parents Circle – Families Forum [PC-FF] where Palestinian and Israeli bereaved families join forces for reconciliation, understanding and promoting peace on both sides of the conflict. Members of PC-FF act together to spread the message of reconciliation to many groups on both sides of the conflict with remarkable results.

Yuval says, “When my kids reached the age when they needed to take part in defending their country through a military service, I felt it was the time for me to step forward. I was no longer comfortable with letting our official leaders make the change. Changing the course of our bloody history is too important to leave it in the hands of the politicians. It is us, ordinary people who paid and continue to pay the price of the conflict, who must enroll ourselves and act within our communities to create the grounds and movement towards a sustainable peace among our nations.”

Ali and Yuval were visiting the U.S. – speaking about their experience and the importance of reconciliation and dialogue. They both represented The Parents Circle Families Forum, founded in 1995 to spearhead a reconciliation process between Israelis and Palestinians. The Parents Circle Familes Forum have one important thing in common – they have lost family members due to the conflict in Israel and Palestine.

Catholic Relief Services Southwest Region Office (S.A.) organized and sponsored their visit to San Antonio. Ali and Abu spoke at the University of Incarnate Word and at the Mexican American Catholic College. Both are promoting dialogue and reconciliation and prevention of violence.

We recommend the following resources related to this program:

– Official Website of The Parents Circle

– Official Website of Catholic Relief Services