Article by Emma Carmody ’21:
On February 13, 2020, six juniors from Kellenberg Memorial, including myself, six other Jewish teenagers from Long Island, a Jewish Cantor and his wife, and Kellenberg’s Father Dan Griffin, S.M., set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I am truly blessed to have been able to tour Israel for ten days on this eye-opening interfaith experience. I learned multitudes about the Jewish faith which is the roots of Catholicism and that helped me to understand my own faith better.
As a group, we traveled from the Old City of Jerusalem to the area around the Sea of Galilee, and even to the Jordan and Syrian borders. The trip was full of exciting and new experiences: we rode camels, hiked Masada, stayed in a Bedouin tent community, took a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, and floated in the Dead Sea. The historic sites were fascinating, but for me, as well as for most of my peers, the religious sites were the most precious.
At the church of the Holy Sepulcher, I was able to touch the Stone of Unction where Jesus was laid to be prepared for burial and I was able to pray outside Jesus’ tomb and at the spot of Calvary. At these holy sites, a deep feeling of peace and love flooded me that I hadn’t quite felt before. To be at these places which have such a deep meaning for me as a Catholic are moments I will keep with me forever.
I was also able to witness the strong faith of my peers at these religious sites and that was inspiring for me. As I walked where Jesus walked and looked out into the sea of Galilee, the same sea that Jesus looked out on, my relationship with Jesus was brought to a new level. Now when I listen to the Gospels at church, I can picture where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount and remember standing right there. I remember walking on the road that Jesus would walk when he went to the Old City of Jerusalem each day and feeling as if Jesus was right there walking with us. It is a good reminder that Jesus is always walking with us throughout our life not just when we are in a place like the Holy Land.
I was truly transformed on this beautiful pilgrimage and watching my friends experience similar transformations was a gift. Project Understanding is a wonderful program to grow in your own faith and learn about the Jewish faith which was the faith of Jesus and my ancestors. I am so grateful for the new friends I made, for new experiences that opened my eyes, and for the deepening of my faith that I experienced on this trip of a lifetime.