This has been in the planning stages for a while, but I’m excited to announce: it’s finally happening.

I’m leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the spring of 2023 — during the first weeks of Lent, in fact —with my friend, Father Antonin Kocurek.

Won’t you join us?

If you’ve never been, this is a great time to go. The weather will be perfect. Trust and believe: after you’ve visited Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth and Golgotha — reaching into the earth to touch the rock where the cross stood, walking the narrow alleys of the Via Dolorosa, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, surrounded by ancient olive trees — you will never read the scriptures the same way.  I remember vividly taking our brief boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, and realizing the landscape was essentially unchanged. It wasn’t built up. I was seeing the hills Jesus saw, hearing the water slap against the bottom of the boat, and feeling myself transported back 20 centuries and realizing, “This is what it was like. What the apostles experienced. What Jesus lived.”

More than a few times, you will find yourself saying, “This is where it all began.” You will be humbled beyond words.

The good people at Select International Tours have been asking me to do this for years, and I finally agreed. I’m thrilled that my wife will be joining us. The two of us made our first pilgrimage to these sites in 2000 and have long wanted to go back.

This was an opportunity we couldn’t refuse.

When I made that pilgrimage 22 years ago, during a Jubilee Year, I prayed for one specific intention: for the souls of my mother and father, in gratitude for the faith that they had passed on to me. A little over a year later, I felt the first stirrings of my vocation. I started aspirancy in the fall of 2002.

I have no doubt, my vocation is one of the fruits of that pilgrimage.

This trip back is an opportunity to retrace my footsteps, touch sacred ground, see it again with my own eyes and say, prayerfully, “Thank you.”

Our priest, Father Antonin, is a wonderful addition to this project. He serves at my parish in Queens and leads the Czech Apostolate in the Diocese of Brooklyn. He has been a great friend (and cheerful breakfast companion) over the years. I’m delighted that he agreed to take this trip with us.

Curious? You can learn more about the pilgrimage at this link.

I hope you’ll be a part of it. By the grace of God, it will be a trip you will never forget!