Connor Diocese plans pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Friday November 27th 2009

Jerusalem's old city.The Bishop of Connor is inviting pilgrims from across the diocese to travel with him to the Holy Land in March 2011.

The Rt Rev Alan Abernethy has asked Canon John Mann, rector of St John’s Parish, Malone, to lead the 11 day pilgrimage. Canon Mann has been to the Holy Land on five previous occasions, and knows first hand what a spiritually rewarding experience such a pilgrimage can be.

The tour, launched at Connor Clergy Conference, will take place from March 22 until April 1 2011, and will be based in Jerusalem and Galilee. There are 100 places available at a cost of £1,465 per person. The pilgrimage is already attracting a lot of interest, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Despite the often depressing news from the Middle East, the reality is that places of pilgrimage in the Holy Land are open and welcome visitors. The Connor pilgrimage is scheduled for a time when the weather is usually ideal for touring. Pilgrims will have the opportunity to worship with the local Christian community in Jerusalem, and on their journey through the Holy Land they will have the chance to seek out local Christians and offer them support and encouragement.

Canon John Mann launches the Holy Land Pilgrimage during the Connor Cergy Conference in November.Visits will include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and Qumran, and there will also be time for relaxation and private exploration. Travel to the Holy Land is from Belfast via Heathrow to Tel Aviv.  In Jerusalem the group will be based in the three star Golden Walls Hotel which overlooks the Old City walls and is within walking distance of the Holy Sepulchre. In Tiberias the four star Ron Beach Hotel is right on the lakeside. Both hotels are family owned and managed, accommodation is in twin-bedded rooms (singles available for additional supplement) and the tour is on a full board basis. There are optional tours at an extra cost to Masada and the Dead Sea.

Inviting people from Connor to join him, Bishop Alan writes: “This is a wonderful opportunity to engage with the places as well as the texts of the Bible and so to encounter and relate to Jesus in a new and thrilling way.

“We shall find the gospel made strikingly contemporary for us in the lives of the faithful Israelis and Palestinians whom we shall meet and who will guide us through their beautiful and troubled land. The variety of sites and situations will speak to us all differently but we shall all be united on a journey together thirsting for holiness, forgiveness, peace and justice.”

Bishop Alan concludes: “The journey will also be full of laughter and joy, with profound worship and cherishing fellowship.”

Canon Mann said: “It is very meaningful to be there in the place that Jesus walked.”

The tour is being organised by McCabe Pilgrimages, London, and an information meeting will be held in February next year for anyone interested in joining the group. Further details are available in the pilgrimage brochure.

To reserve a place, please complete the booking form and send it with a deposit of £100 plus the insurance premium of £49 to Canon John Mann, St John’s Rectory, 86 Maryville Park, Belfast, BT9 6LQ. Cheques should be made payable to McCabe Pilgrimages. Canon Mann can be contacted on 028 9066 6644 or email

Please note the following minor change to the travel details in the brochure: British Midland are understood to be pulling out of the Heathrow/Tel Aviv route from January 2010 and consequently the carrier from Heathrow is likely to be El Al. Timings will be slightly different, but the dates will not change.


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