Canon David Humphries, rector of Kilbride Parish, has recently returned from his latest pilgrimage to the Holy Land, when he was joined by a number of his parishioners
David has been bringing people on a spiritual journey there each year since 1995, and has been joined by the Rev Amanda Adams, rector of Ballyrashane and Kildollagh, for the past three years.
Pilgrim parties are usually 25-30 in number, and interested people come from all over the UK, but particularly from the dioceses of Connor and Down & Dromore.
“Those who go on pilgrimage find that it has all the ingredients of a wonderful break – new places, new faces, rest, refreshment, a change from the routine – but so much more besides,” David said.
“It is more than a journey. Pilgrimage is immensely fulfilling, offering the profound biblical experience of journeying with God.”
With more than 20 years’ experience in leading pilgrimages to the Holy Land, David has an in-depth knowledge of the land and its people and personally directs every aspect of the pilgrimage from planning to completion. The pilgrims walk in the footsteps of Jesus, but they also cross the paths of the people of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament.
Sites visited, and where people are deeply moved, include Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the likely place of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection), Nazareth (the place where Jesus grew up) and Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee – the place more than any other that Jesus called home.
David said the pilgrims find that some of the places they visit help them to live out their faith by helping those they encounter on their journey. This they do in a very special way at Bethany, the village where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, where they visit Jeel al Amal, which means Generation of Hope. This is a school and orphanage founded by Christian Palestinians.
“Here the pilgrims can contribute to the work of the home through their presence and prayers, which provide the means and encouragement to keep this beacon of Christ’s compassion burning brightly in an area of great need,” David said.
“As individuals, all pilgrims experience things differently in the Holy Land. There is no right or wrong way. Pilgrimage does not require a certain degree of piety, just a simple openness to God.”
David’s next pilgrimage begins on May 22 2018 and lasts for 11 days. Preparations begin in September, when booking gets underway. Anyone who is interested should contact David at Kilbride Rectory, telephone 028 9334 0225.
More photos of the latest pilgrimage, which took place in early June, can be seen on the Kilbride Parish website.