Up Front and Personal

Our Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

By Jill Infante-Colgan 

Our parish of Corpus Christi in Woodside just made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On my part, it was very special, as it was to fulfill my mother’s dream. Being a Catholic, to be able to step on the land where Jesus lived has been the lifelong desire of my 86-year-old Cuban mother, Orinda. After having resolved apparent hurdles of the trip, and counting on the blessing of God, the trip was truly a success. 

Our pilgrim group exemplifies the diversity of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Just to name a few, there were Cuban, Irish, Peruvian, Mexican, Filipino, and Colombian. We prayed the rosary in different languages. 

Each person shared their gifts to make this pilgrimage a remarkable one. Kaitlyn, a young nurse, was able to save a sick passenger on our flight to Tel Aviv. Jose Angel, singer and composer, led the songs for our Masses. Deacon Juan Zhagñay is like the German shepherd who takes care of the sheep to keep them from going astray. Our octogenarians Orinda and Susan provided teenage-like energy and enthusiasm! On my part, I was the tech assistant. 

The added blessing of our pilgrimage is the friendships that were forged in our group. We were like one body with many parts (1 Cor. 12:12). 

The journey to the Holy Land has been a life-changing experience for us. We saw the Bible come alive as we visited Bethlehem where Jesus was born, the Via Dolorosa which is the way of sorrow leading to Golgotha where Jesus was crucified and to the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was buried and risen from the dead. These biblical locations are so overwhelming with unspeakable emotions. 

We had Mass every day celebrated by our pastor, Msgr. Jonas Achacoso, at emblematic places like Bethany, Nazareth, Ein Karem, the Mount of Beatitudes, Holy Sepulchre, etc. We also had a renewal of marriage vows mass in Cana, where Jesus changed water into wine. 

Married couples in our travel group were able to renew their vows and obtain a commemorative certificate. My husband and I renewed our vows over the phone despite the time difference of 7 hours ahead of New York time! 

Now as we contemplate the mysteries of the rosary or listen to the readings at Mass, we are transported back to our trip and the marvelous experiences that have changed our lives forever. 

Jill Infante-Colgan is the Tech Coordinator and Computer Science Teacher at Monsignor McClancy High School and a parishioner of Corpus Christi Church in Woodside.