It has been an historic week for a group of pilgrims from St. George Parish in Bourbonnais. Led by their

Fr. Dan Belanger celebrates a send-off Mass at St. George

pastor, Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV, they traveled to the Holy Land, to walk in the path of Jesus — from his birth in Bethlehem, to his home in Nazareth and ultimately to the place of his final passion, death and resurrection.

“As we begin this pilgrimage, I’m asking everyone to focus on prayer, instead of just knowledge,” Fr. Dan said at a send-off Mass at St. George. “I want to remind us all that we are on a journey.”

Pilgrims gather around one of the many depictions of Mary at the Church of the Annunciation

After traveling along the Israeli Mediterranean coast, they came to the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth, where it is believed the Angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary — and she said yes. Fr. Dan celebrated Mass in the holy church, with the pilgrims surrounding the altar.

Fr. Dan celebrates Mass at Mount Olives

It would be the first of several Masses celebrated at historic places along their journey. He also celebrated Mass at the Mount of Olives and in the Moses Chapel on the top of Mt. Tabor, site of the transfiguration of  Christ, where he spoke to Elijah and Moses, located in Galilee, as well as in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.

Pilgrims take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee

From there, the group made their way to Jerusalem, where they saw the excavation site of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well Jericho and they swam in the Dead Sea.

“I picture Jesus as

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee

he entered the city for the last time, to experience his passion,” Fr. Dan said. “We have lived with him, his birth and ministry.”

Fr. Dan follows in a long line of

Viatorians, who are committed to raising up communities where faith is lived, deepened and celebrated. In the words of the founder of the Viatorians, Fr. Louis Querbes: “Adored and loved be Jesus.”