Footsteps of Jesus with Fr Paul Smithers – Harvest Journeys Catholic Pilgrimages

Footsteps of Jesus with Fr Paul Smithers

A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with optional extension to Oberammergau Passion Play

Watch the Gospels come alive as we set out on this true pilgrimage of faith and retrace the progressive stages of the life of Jesus from his Nativity in Bethlehem to his Passion on Calvary. Be deeply moved as we behold with our eyes what our minds for so long attempted to imagine.

Rev Paul Smithers
fj2201 map

Highlights

Bethlehem (2) • Mt Carmel • Haifa • Nazareth (1) • Cana • Sea of Galilee (3) • Mt Beatitudes • Mt Tabor • Masada • Jericho • Jerusalem (4) • Taybeh. Post Tour Option: Oberammergau Passion Play – 2 Nights

Itinerary

DAY 1SUN 11 SEPTEMBER - ARRIVE THE HOLY LAND

Arrive at Tel Aviv airport where we will be met and transferred by coach to Bethlehem, the City of David and the birthplace of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ where we formally begin our chronological journey in the Footsteps of Jesus. 

Bethlehem overnight (D) 

DAY 2MON 12 SEPTEMBER - BETHLEHEM & SURROUNDS

Theme: The Birth of Jesus 

We firstly travel out to Ein Karem and ascend the hill to the Church of the Visitation where Mary visited Elizabeth and proclaimed her Magnificat prayer – ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord’. Visit the nearby Church of St John the Baptist to pray before the grotto of his birth. 

Continue to the Shepherd’s Field to celebrate a joyous Christmas Mass in a local cave to commemorate the appearance of the angels to the shepherds on that first Holy night (Lk 2:8–16). 

Back in Bethlehem this afternoon we will enter the spectacular Church of the Nativity, the oldest complete church in the Christian world (6th century) and birthplace of Our Lord and Saviour. Bow low and enter the grotto through the Door of Humility as we descend to the Holy Manger where a silver star in the floor marks the actual spot where Jesus was born. 

Proceed to St Jerome’s Cave where in 386 AD the saint spent 30 years producing the first vernacular version of the Bible! Before returning to our hotel for a rest we have the opportunity to visit the Christian Co-Op store. 

Prepare to enjoy tonight our special Breaking the Bread Experience as we enter the homes of local Christians and share in a delicious home-cooked Arabic meal. 

Bethlehem overnight (BD) 

DAY 3TUE 13 SEPTEMBER – VIA HAIFA AND MT CARMEL TO NAZARETH

Theme: Mountains of the Lord 

Departing Bethlehem this morning we travel north through the Jordan valley passing by Shiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept (Joshua 18:1), onto the crusader port of Caesarea Maritima, built by Herod the Great on the harbour from which Paul was taken to Rome. 

Continue to the city of Haifa wrapped by the intoxicating blue of the Mediterranean Sea on all three sides. 

Enter the Stella Maris Monastery at Mount Carmel where in the lower cave, Elijah was said to have meditated on his victory over the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:1-40). 

Enjoy lunch in our hand-picked restaurant with spectacular views over the Mediterranean, 

This afternoon we visit the House of Grace to hear the inspired story of a family committed to empowering the most marginalized members of the Haifa community. 

Arrive into Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus’ childhood. 

Nazareth overnight (BLD) 

DAY 4WED 14 SEPTEMBER - NAZARETH & CANA TO SEA OF GALILEE

Theme: The Formative Years of Jesus 

We begin our day at the Basilica of the Annunciation where a traditional cave becomes the focal point to Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel “Let it be done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). After celebrating Mass we will visit the nearby Church of St Joseph to commemorate the life of Mary’s beloved spouse. We then enter the nearby Synagogue Church, a Crusader structure said to be built on the site of the synagogue where Jesus read the Messianic passage in Isaiah 61 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”  

Continue onto Nazareth Village, an authentic non-profit re-creation of the village life of Nazareth as in the days of Jesus. Here we will take a parable-rich walk back in time along the path which brings to life the environment and atmosphere which shaped Jesus’ early years and ministry. Complete our memorable visit with a fascinating Biblical Meal in the original setting of a first century house. 

Ascend Biblical Mt Precipice which offers an incredible view of Nazareth and the Jezreel valley. This mountain is believed to be the place of the rejection of Jesus after his teaching in the Nazareth Synagogue (Luke 4:16-30). 

Travel east and on to the village of Cana this afternoon where Jesus, at the request of His Mother, performed his first miracle transforming the water into wine at the wedding feast (Jn 2:1-12). Here, married couples will have the opportunity to renew their wedding vows. 

Finally we arrive and travel by the shores of Lake Galilee “Go to Galilee and you will find him there” (Mt 28:7). 

Rise then to the Mount of Beatitudes to enjoy some reflective time to wander through the Church and tranquil gardens to ponder Jesus’ message of blessedness in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1– 12). 

Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD) 

DAY 5THU 15 SEPTEMBER - SEA OF GALILEE

Theme: The Public Ministry of Jesus 

Arise and set out on a spectacular day of pilgrimage. 

Visit Mt Tabor where we ascend by taxis up the narrow winding road leading to the majestic summit. Here Our Lord’s divinity shone forth in the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-2). After our private reflection time in this breathtaking setting we will better understand Peter’s words ‘Lord it is good for us to be here’. 

Board a traditional ‘Jesus Boat’ sailing vessel for a special Harvest highlight – a Private Mass in the centre of Lake Galilee. Here we will float in quiet tranquility and reflect upon the miracles of Jesus calming the storm and appearing to the apostles walking on this very water. 

Back on shore at the Yigal Allon Museum, see the 1st century ‘Jesus boat’ painstakingly raised and restored from the muddy lakebed in 1986. 

After our ‘St Peter’s Fish’ lunch in a local restaurant, we will journey north to Caesarea Philippi near the base of Mt Hermon, where the beautiful springs of Banias form the source of the Jordan River. In this tranquil place Jesus spent some quiet time with his disciples asking them, as he does again to us in this moment: “Who do you say I am?” After Peter’s inspired answer he went on to commission him: “You are Peter and on this Rock I will build my church” (Mt 16:13). 

We return to our hotel before dinner. 

Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD) 

DAY 6FRI 16 SEPTEMBER - MT ARBEL / JESUS TRAIL ENCOUNTER

Theme: Galilee encounters with Jesus 

Set off to a secret location down by the shores of Lake Galilee to enjoy Breakfast with Jesus in the spirit of John 21:12 when Jesus said to his disciples “Come and have breakfast”. ‘Taste and See’ the Gospels as we recount together this passage of Scripture live on location! 

Nearby visit the Church of the Primacy of Peter down by the shores of the lake. Here Jesus challenged Peter and each one of us ‘Do you really love me? Feed my sheep.’ Down by the shore of Lake Galilee we will celebrate an outdoor Mass here we will never forget. 

Departing this tranquil place, we come to nearby Tabgha, site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mt 14:20) and explore the 4th-century church displaying Byzantine mosaics considered to be some of the best in the Holy Land. 

We enter Capernaum, the once fishing village of the first apostles Peter, Andrew, James & John which also became the hometown of Jesus and the scene of many of his miracles. Here we will explore the synagogue which dates back to the time of Jesus and see the site of St Peter’s home. 

Continue our rise to the majestic summit of historic Mt Arbel to marvel at the amazing views over the Golan Heights and the full panorama of Lake Galilee. 

Visit the nearby Ancient Arbel Synagogue which sits alone on the side of the hill with its magnificent Galilee backdrop. 

From here, pilgrims will take the opportunity to walk a spectacular stretch of the ancient Jesus Trail frequented by Our Lord in his many travels between Nazareth and Capernaum. This well-worn shepherd’s path offers a rare and genuine experience for able bodied pilgrims to prayerfully encounter the actual footsteps of Jesus down through the rustic pass between the mountains. 

AFTERNOON FREE. 

Sea of Galilee overnight (BD) 

DAY 7SAT 17 SEPTEMBER - VIA JERICHO & MASADA TO JERUSALEM

Theme: Desert Encounters 

Departing Lake Galilee this morning we journey south along the Dead Sea and arrive at historic Masada where we will embark the Cable Car offering spectacular scenery to the summit before a guided tour of Herod’s fortress overlooking the Judean Desert. 

Pass by Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found by a Bedouin Shepherd boy in 1947. 

Visit Jericho, the ‘City of Palms’, said to be the oldest inhabited city in the world dating back to around 9000 BC. Stop by the famous Sycamore tree used to commemorate the powerful story of the tax collector Zacchaeus who climbed the tree to see Jesus. (Lk 19:1-10). Across the valley see the Mt of Temptation where Jesus was tempted by the devil during his 40 day fast. 

Soon we arrive at the Jordan River Baptismal site (Qasr Al Yehoud), an archeological discovery said to be the actual location where Jesus was Baptised. Celebrate a special Mass here as we renew our own Baptismal promises. 

Ascend St George’s Monastery lookout to marvel at the cliff-hanging 5th-century complex carved into a sheer rock wall and still occupied today. 

Journey onto Jerusalem – the City of our God and Mountain of His Holiness. 

Jerusalem overnight (BLD) 

DAY 8SUN 18 SEPTEMBER - JERUSALEM

Theme: The Passion of Jesus 

Begin our Jerusalem pilgrimage as we proceed up to the Mt of Olives to visit the ‘Pater Noster’ Church where Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer (Mt 6:7–15). Walk down the Palm Sunday Road as pilgrims to the Dominus Flevit Church for Mass, built on the site where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Lk 19:41–44). 

We then come down to the Garden of Gethsemane where we will enter the Church of the Agony containing the rock upon which Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. Prepare then for a memorable pilgrim highlight as we gain private group access inside the adjacent ‘Garden of Betrayal‘ for an extended time of prayer and reflection surrounded by ancient olive trees dating back to the time of Christ. 

From here we set out by coach across town to the Israel Museum for a lunch break. View the Second Temple Scale Model of Jerusalem as it was in the time of Jesus. In the adjacent Shrine of the Book Museum we will soon gaze upon parts of the original Dead Sea Scrolls with our own eyes. 

Finally today we come to Mt Zion to the Palace of Caiaphas and into the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu commemorating Peter’s triple denial of Jesus. Here our pilgrimage moves towards the final phase of Jesus’ passion. 

Jerusalem overnight (BD) 

DAY 9MON 19 SEPTEMBER - JERUSALEM

Theme: The Passion of Jesus 

Return to Mt Zion this morning, and firstly enter the Cenacle room of the Last Supper (Upper Room) where we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Here we will celebrate a stunning private Mass. Continue to the Church of the Dormition identified as the place where the Virgin Mary died or ‘fell asleep’ as the name suggests. 

We then come to the vicinity of the Temple Mount to view the Dome of the Rock, El Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall (formerly known as the Wailing Wall) . We might join the action of our last 3 Popes who tucked their written prayers between the gaps in the ancient stones.

Continue on to the Church of St Anne with its magnificent acoustics and said to be built over the birthplace of the Virgin Mary. See the adjacent Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralysed man (Jn 5:2–9). Enter the nearby Flagellation and Condemnation Chapels as well as the Ecce Homo’s Lithostrotos which so vividly commemorate the last hours of Jesus’ life.

AFTERNOON FREE.

Before dinner we take the opportunity to listen to the courageous stories of the Bereaved Family Forum where both a Palestinian and Israeli representative will share their extraordinary journey from grief and loss to a stunning reconciliation that is sure to challenge us deeply. 

Jerusalem overnight (BD)

DAY 10TUE 20 SEPTEMBER - JERUSALEM

Theme: The Death, Resurrection & Ascension of Jesus 

We rise at dawn and return to the Old City to commence our Stations of the Cross, beginning from the Antonia Fortress where Jesus was condemned to death. We pray and follow in Our Lord’s footsteps along the actual Via Dolorosa to culminate at the site of Calvary where we will celebrate Mass here in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Walk the stairway climbing to the actual site where the Cross of Jesus once stood. Also enter the Tomb of Christ, the site believed to be where Our Lord lay buried for three days before rising from the dead.

After breakfast back at our hotel, we then return to the Mt of Olives to the Chapel of the Ascension which is believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended into heaven. The small round church/mosque contains a stone imprinted with what is said to be the footprints of Jesus. A befitting end to our chronological pilgrimage in his footsteps as we recall his Great Commission to the eleven disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations … And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. “ Mt 28:18,20

From here we set off north for our final adventure to the village of Taybeh, once Old Testament Ophrah and New Testament Ephraim visited by Jesus before facing his crucifixion (John 11:54). Taybeh is the last surviving Christian outpost here in the Holy Land and enjoying strong ecumenical bonds between its 1300 inhabitants of Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Melkite communities.

Our fascinating time will include a visit to the Byzantine Church of St George built in the 5th century by St Helena, the mother of Constantine and widely known as the first pilgrim to the Holy Land. Also enter a first century farmers house with its original manger below where we will gain insight into the original Nativity reality. 

After being served lunch by the local Nuns we will take the opportunity to visit the ceramic workshop with its renowned dove shaped peace-lamps or maybe a tour of the local Brewery or Winery, all serving to bring a sustainable livelihood to this vulnerable community. Return to Jerusalem for a late afternoon rest.

Before our final dinner, take the brief opportunity to view the Holy Shroud Exhibit with its full size replica of the sacred cloth.

Enjoy then a Special Celebration Dinner tonight in a wonderful restaurant with spectacular views over all of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem overnight (BLD)

DAY 11WEDNESDAY 21 SEPTEMBER – DEPART THE HOLY LAND (OR EXTEND)

Return today to the airport OR join the Oberammergau Passion Play Extension. (B)

Meal Code: (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner

pilgrim highlights

Pay homage in Bethlehem before the silver star that marks the very spot of Jesus’ birth.

Reflect quietly at the Grotto cave of the Annunciation to honour Mary’s ‘Yes’ to God.

Celebrate a breathtaking Mass in the centre of Lake Galilee onboard our traditional sailing vessel floating in silence and tranquility.

Enjoy an exclusive ‘Breakfast with Jesus’ in a private location by the shores of Galilee.

Engage in inspired People & Plight encounters and be moved by their faith and resilience.

Walk a hidden stretch of the authentic Jesus Trail through the mountain pass in Christ’s actual footsteps towards Lake Galilee.

Participate in a traditional ‘Sabbath of a Lifetime Meal’ as we are welcomed inside a Jewish home to share songs and prayers to welcome in the Lord’s day.

Enter as a group into a private gated Garden in Gethsemane for an extended time of prayer amidst ancient olive trees.

Walk in Jesus’ footsteps as we pray the Stations of the Cross at dawn along the deserted Via Dolorosa streets in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Bow low at the altar of Calvary and touch the very rock where Jesus was crucified.

Gather for daily Masses around the most stunning Holy Sites of Sacred Scripture.

taste & see meals

Bethlehem: Listen to Catholic students at the Bethlehem University and share a beautiful meal prepared by their hospitality department.

Nazareth: Taste & See a traditional First-Century meal in an outdoor stone dining setting in Nazareth Village.

Tiberias: Experience a renowned ‘St Peter’s Fish’ lunch freshly caught from the Sea of Galilee!

Mt Carmel: Share a beautiful meal in Haifa in a breathtaking setting overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Galilee: Share together a stunning ‘Breakfast with Jesus’ in a secret location by the shores of Lake Galilee.

Jerusalem: Be welcomed into a Jewish home to celebrate a Sabbath Meal experience in Jerusalem with prayers and songs to welcome in the Lord’s Day.

Jerusalem: Celebrate our final night together in a first class restaurant overlooking the illuminated Old City.

Dates & Prices

Dates
Chaplain
Tour Cost
11-21 Sep 2022
Fr Paul Smithers
AUD $4990
More info
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FJ2201
11-21 Sep 2022
More info

Dates

11-21 Sep 2022

Chaplain

Fr Paul Smithers

Tour Cost

AUD $4990

Tour Code

FJ2201

Single Room

AUD $1880 Supplement

Air & Tour

from AUD $7070

Start/Finish

Bethlehem / Jerusalem

Prepaid Tips

$14 p/day

* Costs are indicative and must remain subject to possible change in the event of significant exchange rate variations, airfare, tax & hotel changes or minimum group size factors beyond Harvest’s control. Refer to Harvest Terms & Conditions.
** Group Airfare participants will travel on main group flights with meet & greet assistance & coach tranfers.
† Passengers can elect to end this tour in Jerusalem.

Inclusions
  • ACCOMODATION & MEALS: Based on superior standard central accommodation • 10 Dinners / 10 Full Breakfasts / 5 Lunches
  • TOURING & TRANSPORTATION: Deluxe Air Conditioned Coach touring • Professional Christian Escort / Local Guides • Sightseeing & Entrance Fees
  • OTHER: Fully Escorted by Spiritual Chaplain • Porterage at hotels • Harvest Backpack, Pilgrim Journal & Tour Wallet. NB: Jordan Visa fee at additional expense
Not Included
  • Other meals not listed
  • Passport and Visa Costs (if applicable)
  • Items of a personal nature including phone calls, laundry, beverages, etc.
  • Travel insurance - ask Harvest about its preferred Gold Protect Travel Insurance
  • Prepaid Tips
3 Days / 2 Nights Post Tour

Post-Tour Option: Oberammergau Passion Play

DAY 11WEDNESDAY 21 SEPTEMBER – HOLY LAND TO OBERAMMERGAU

Today we travel to the village of Oberammergau, home to the world-renowned Passion Play.
Every ten years affords pilgrims the great privilege of witnessing the world-renowned Passion Play of Oberammergau. For over 300 years this picturesque village in the Bavarian Alps has re-enacted the passion of Jesus, and people of every religious denomination have been drawn to this cherished spectacle.

Oberammergau Region overnight (BD)

DAY 12THURSDAY 22 SEPTEMBER - OBERAMMERGAU – THE PASSION PLAY

The history of the Oberammergau Passion Play begins in 1633. During the Thirty Years’ War, after much suffering and also many deaths caused by the plague, the surviving population of Oberammergau vowed that they would perform the “play of the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ” every ten years if they were spared from extinction. At Whitsun in 1634 they kept their promise for the first time. As early as the middle of the 18th Century spectators came to Oberammergau from all parts of Germany, attracted by the great power and mystique of the play. In 2022 the village will perform the play for the 42nd time, maintaining the continuity of this unique world-famous event.

Over 2000 participants bring the story of Jesus of Nazareth to the ears and eyes of the audience in a five-hour presentation on the imposing open-air stage. Almost half of the inhabitants of Oberammergau enact with great devotion the story of Jesus, whose message gives billions of people hope and strength. The play covers the period of Jesus entering Jerusalem and continues up to his death on the Cross and his resurrection.

Today is the highlight of our pilgrimage when we attend the Passion Play.

Oberammergau Region overnight (BD)

DAY 13FRIDAY 23 SEPTEMBER - DEPART GERMANY

Meal Code: (B) = Breakfast (L) = Lunch (D) = Dinner

OBERAMMERGAU PASSION PLAY EXTENSION
   
Cost Add-On $1890 pp Twin Share Land Only Plus Best Airfare Tel Aviv to Munich    
Single Room $640 Supplement    
Prepaid Tips $14 PP per day    
  • “The tour was well organised, the accommodations was excellent. The tour guides were knowledgeable and were an enormous source of information. Border transfers were easily arranged. It was great to travel in an unknown area without any worries.”

    Clara Kempers
    Footsteps of Jesus

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