Holy Land Pilgrimage: Walking in His Footsteps

Those who read the four Gospels and understand the power of the messages each Gospel carries has the opportunity to grow more deeply in faith. There is, according to the late Benedictine monk, Father Bargil Pixner, a fifth Gospel. Whereas the first four record the life of Jesus, the fifth invites you to walk in Jesus’ footsteps.

From July 18-27 2019, The Leadership Institute invites those between 19 and 35 to visit this “fifth Gospel” and travel to the Holy Land to study Sacred Scriptures and the life of our Lord and Savior. Beginning in Bethlehem and ending in Jerusalem, the pilgrimage will follow the life of Christ chronologically. The trip will also include a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, a visit to the Mount of Beatitudes, and day in Capernaum, where Jesus taught and performed many signs of wonder.

“Pilgrims will celebrate Mass together each day, take turns leading reflections, and participate in classes that assist in their faith development,” said Bishop Caggiano, who accompanied the young adults for the 2018 pilgrimage in January. “This year’s pilgrimage was moved from March, when it was originally scheduled, to July. Our hope is that moving the pilgrimage to the summer will allow more of our school teachers to participate.”

“My own pilgrimage experience was a powerful week of reflection, prayer and spiritual growth,” said Grace Shay, who participated in the 2018 pilgrimage and will help guide the 2019 pilgrims on their journey. “There is something very special about traveling with others who are energized on the trip, but also working to navigate what it means to be a faithful disciple back home.”

Shay’s desire to grow in her faith was one of the reasons she took part in the inaugural pilgrimage. “There is no better way to continue our Catholic education and explore the foundations of our Catholic identity than by traveling to the source of our faith.”

Another one of the original pilgrims, Marcelle Morrisey, agreed. “We were in the same spot, physically and mentally, that the disciples were in. They had to figure out what they were going to do next. They had to muster up the courage to step out and be the witnesses they were called to be, which is exactly what my fellow pilgrims and I were called to do after what we experienced on our trip.”

Looking ahead, Shay hopes that other young adults will join the 2019 journey. “This is a chance for a personal encounter with the Lord,” Shay said. “Challenge yourself to grow more deeply in your faith in the place where it all began. Feel the breeze of the Sea of Galilee, read the Gospels among the olive trees and attend Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – and risk having your life turned upside down.”

“The cost is $3,500 per person,” according to Patrick Donovan, executive director of The Leadership Institute, which sponsors the pilgrimage. “This includes just about everything pilgrims will need.” Some scholarship money is available, and the complete registration process and scholarship information can be found on the Institute’s website,

“Many of those who traveled with the bishop last year still get together to pray and study,” Donovan said, “Those who were friends before we left have only grown stronger and those who were strangers when we departed quickly became friends. One of the beautiful things about pilgrimages is the lasting impact the journey has on those who participate. I anticipate that will be no different this year. In fact, post-pilgrimage meetings are built into our schedule.”

“The bishop invites those that fall in this target age to consider joining the pilgrimage,” Donovan said. “I know it is a sacrifice to miss work or to try to arrange to be away from school, which is why we changed our plans from March to July. But the benefits far outweigh the costs. To wake up each day and find yourself walking in the footsteps of Jesus is a powerful antidote to the busyness in which we so often find ourselves.”

To learn more about the journey or how you can help sponsor participants, please email