God is Good!

Seek the Lord while He may be found!

27 Pilgrimages To Jerusalem

Jerusalem: Cenacle Marco Plassio, Wikimedia Commons

Jerusalem: Cenacle
Marco Plassio, Wikimedia Commons

Oftentimes I went to the Holy Land and Jerusalem by myself, not as a sight seer, but as a pilgrim seeking the Face of Christ.  Jesus of Nazareth comes across as the most exciting Person ever to live.  No one can study His Life and completely exhaust all there is to know about Him.  No greater adventure can I follow than to make every effort to grow closer in friendship with Him.

I first visited the Holy Land in 1959 with three other priests.  The flight time to Jerusalem comes to 14 hours, quite exhausting.  My first and last trip, I thought to myself.  But unknown to myself, the Holy Places had captured my heart.  For the next 50 years, I would return on the average of every other year.  My residence stood at the Second Station of the Way of the Cross.

Now and then, a few friends would join with me on the long journey.  A good experience because we shared our thoughts each evening about the day’s happenings.  What drew me back again and again?  For one thing, on coming home to Chicago each time, my work as a priest took on a new joyful intensity.  I wanted fervently to tell my people about the wisdom of seeking the Face of Christ, even in our Chicago environment.

I enjoyed offering Masses in the many Holy Places in the Old City of Jerusalem, some six blocks square.  Some of my favorites: the tomb of Christ and Mount Calvary, both in the Holy Sepulcher Church, the most revered in Christendom; the Cenacle Chapel, some 50 yards away from the Last Supper site; the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In the neighborhood of Jerusalem are many places mentioned in the Gospels, like the Franciscan Church at Emmaus which marks the meeting place of Jesus and the two downcast disciples on the first Easter morning.  A favorite place of mine, because I have been downcast so many times in my life, is Bethany, where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived with their open door policy to Jesus in hospitality.  I prayed my heart would be the same.

In Ein Karem, a suburb of Jerusalem, where Mary and Elizabeth met in the Visitation, a beautiful church.  In my pilgrimages, I would take a bus to Galilee, to Nazareth 85 miles to the north, to Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee.  These sites tell of the ministry of Jesus.  Alleluia!  I am so grateful to God for giving me a love of the Holy Land.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

August 14, 2016 - Posted by | Bulletins | , , , ,


  1. Last fall in D.C., at a “Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine” conference I met a Palestinian Christian who described his anguish over the destruction of his ancestral olive tree grove near Bethlehem; I met an Arab-Israeli who was born in Israel, could not serve in the Israeli military because of his heritage, and yet pastored a small Nazarene church; I met an Israeli women who shared her pain over the death of her child during a conflict; she introduced a friend, a Palestinian woman, who had lost a child in a conflict too (both had wept & may still do). Jesus walked where you had walked on your visits, Father. And as you know, He wept with Mary & Martha and over Jerusalem. Thanks for sharing these words about seeking Christ. May you know Him to your heart’s content. Thank you, Father, for reaching out in His love with this cool blog.

    Comment by Ed Miskovic QN '64 | August 14, 2016 | Reply

  2. Tom, FYI Ed >

    Comment by Ed Miskovic | August 14, 2016 | Reply

  3. Father, you are so lucky to have make the journey so often. I did got to Rome and the Vatican once and I truly enjoyed that journey and it brought me strong faith, I am sure the Holy Land would have done more for me but I was not sure I was worthy to be in the same place as Jesus and to be able to walk in his footsteps. Father, you are in our prayers every day. God Bless You!

    Comment by Dave Grayson | August 14, 2016 | Reply

  4. This sure brings back the memories of you going to Jerusalem. While we fretted about all the unrest there and were worried about your safety, you were calm and thinking what a joyous place you would be at. You’d come back safe, OK sick, but safe and we would all breathe a sigh of relief.

    Comment by Gerry Ryan | August 14, 2016 | Reply

  5. Hello Father McKenna! I didn’t know you had this blog until one of my son’s found it since I haven’t been able to get a hold of you. It seems your phone number has been disconnected. I’m so glad my son found your blog! I love it and will have to tell my other children about it! Hope to hear from you soon via email. I’ll be in Chicago the end of this month and would love to see you. God bless you Father! Ana

    Comment by Ana Tomchek | August 15, 2016 | Reply

  6. The Hoły Land never leaves you…it is in our heart for the rest of our days! Thank you Fr. George for “taking us” to The Hoły Land in your blog! I am so grateful for the two pilgrimages, and hope to return again…if it be in God’s Flight Plan!
    Blessings & Gratitude & Love, marianne

    Comment by mcs | August 16, 2016 | Reply

  7. Hi Fr. George!
    How wonderful to read another post about the Holy Land! Your rich descriptions of it can bring me, the reader, to that sacred place. I wish that I had the opportunity to go with you on one of your many pilgrimages. What a blessing for those that had that chance to do so! I don’t know if/when I will ever get there – but your posts about it are a joy to read!

    I am so grateful to God for YOU, dear friend! You are the gift that I needed at a very difficult point in my life – a gift sent by the Holy Spirit. I will tell people I’ve just met about you and about that ‘Holy Spirit moment’ and every time I tell it, it gives me chills. You continue to inspire me with this blog to be a more devout Catholic and to really participate at mass. You are never far in thought, my dear Fr. George. I love you!


    Comment by nancywest22 | August 20, 2016 | Reply

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