Steve and Janet,
I have wanted, for quite a while now, to thank you both for the wonderful pilgrimage experience in Ireland. Aside from the always amazing sites, spiritual direction and fellowship, this time was very special because of the incredible opportunity that you all allowed for the “baby Deacons”, Tom and Floyd. Thank you so much for those special moments!
It was also wonderful to see “old” friends whom we have met on previous pilgrimages, to meet new ones and to travel with wonderful friends. Traveling with you all is like family, thank you for making it possible for so many to experience these life altering moments. You are evangelization at it’s best! Thank you for all of your efforts, sacrifices and love for your faith as well as the enthusiasm to share it with everyone.
We are very grateful to have joined you on 4 pilgrimages and apparently, our enthusiasm is showing…2 couples from our Parish will be joining you this week in the Holy Land! I can only imagine how you all feel when you see the amazement in other’s eyes when they realize “where they are”! Again, thank you for making this possible for them and so many others. Have a wonderful, safe journey, you all are in our hearts and our prayers. Please give sweet Janet a hug for me!
Martha & Floyd
You, Janet, Amer, and David are in my prayers especially today on Holy Thursday. My husband and I went to the Tenebrae this morning and the following Psalm made me think of “y’all”.
“God of hosts bring us back let your face shine on us & we shall be saved”
My heart swells & my eyes well up when a prayer or a reading brings me back to the Holy Land. The pilgrimage was life changing & an eye-opening experience. We are still sharing our trip with others & telling them to go with you!
Steve, greetings from the Sunny South,
I wanted you to know how thankful my wife and I are that we went with you on our Holy Land Pilgrimage (also the Footsteps of St Paul Mediterranean Cruise). Our pastor and a group from our parish went to the Holy Land with another group in April [name of pilgrimage leader withheld]. Their experience was totally different from ours. Long waits (2 hours in The Holy Sepulchre), bad food, and no Mass in the tomb.
Have you considered doing a pilgrimage to Oberammergau Passion Play? [Yes, two groups in 2010].
Thanks again!! Blessings, Peter
This was my first pilgrimage, and it won’t be my last. It was SOOOO wonderful! You and Janet provided an extremely well-organized trip; we didn’t have to do any planning, just participate to the fullest. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for our Catholic Faith with us. God bless you a hundredfold.
While Karen and I (we’re the 2 Mainiacs) were leaving the Cenacle on our free afternoon, we met a Polish couple from the Detroit area who knew you. They are from the Cyrus and Methodius parish and said to extend their greetings to you.
Steve and Janet,
It’s difficult to funnel all my thoughts down to a few words. But all week I’ve been basking in the afterglow of the trip and listing all my favorite sites and dressing them up with comments drawn from Scripture, geography, archaeology, devotional reflections, history, etc. Ratzinger’s thoughts in Jesus of Nazareth are being coordinated with my list of sites.
Already, the mere visit, just being there physically, has enhanced my reading of the gospels. Yes, I’ve always enjoyed the gospels. But now, just by virtue of having been materially present in Jerusalem, Cana, Mount Tabor, the Sea of Galilee, etc., there is a deeper subjective enjoyment, a new dimension, a richness to the text that surpasses what was there before. No doubt this will only deepen with increased meditation and study. The change is similar to seeing a pencil sketch of an object and then seeing it colored in. The sketch was fine but moving beyond black and white is better. Sally and you predicted something like that. I’m here to say: “‘Tis true.”
Thanks for encouraging me to get to the top of Calvary. When we were planning it, I didn’t think we were going to try it. So I was surprised when the opportunity came up. Once up there, I sat and prayed for what seemed a half hour surrounded by only a few people and Sally. To sit, touch, pray, breathe, meditate, fellowship at the site of the Crucifixion is the experience of a lifetime especially when coupled with entering the Holy Sepulcher and touching the slab upon which Jesus’ body rested. (I love that little Coptic property in back).
I have a hard time imagining anybody doing this better than the two of you. Professionally speaking, I think you do a remarkable job managing expectations and controlling attendance and punctuality. Both of you keep focused and steady. You are surprisingly accessible and attentive to the pilgrims. Given all the details and occasional curve balls, you both come across as “called” rather than “driven”.
Steve projects a confident leadership and knows how to keep the skids greased. Janet radiates hospitality and serenity in the midst of all the challenging details. You even took advantage of irregularities like Yom Kippur, the extended drive through the West Bank, the Shroud Exhibit and the bar mitzvah’s at the Wailing Wall to amp up the experience. The biblical content was superb. The use of local restaurants and food is just so right.
Amer’s sense of history, local color, baritone voice, physicality and homespun style complements Steve’s intensity beautifully. Fr. Steve’s Mass’, homilies and good pastoral sense held us all together in a common bond of worship. Sharing the experience with so many other pilgrims is one of the finest features of the trip. I can’t count the worthwhile conversations I had with other pilgrims over the ten days we were together.
Here’s a telling fact: When I travel I am always anxious to get home and get back in the saddle. This time I wanted to stay indefinitely. That is a strong testimony.
I could go on for pages but let me close simply by saying: Thanks again. I’m not sure if I have ever gotten to the Holy Land without your longstanding invitation and repeated reminder. I owe you much. Talk to you soon.