2011
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Franciscan March in the Holy Land

Leaving home and occupation, they walked together for three days along the roads of the Holy Land … seeking the source of life.
The Springs of Life was, in fact, the theme of the Franciscan March in this August of 2011, in which a hundred young Arab Christians participated.
“We try to help these young people discover the true value of life,” says Friar Badie, “and the Franciscan March offers them an opportunity to be closer to God – to be at at the Source of Life, amidst the bustle of today, with its myths and false concepts, especially here in the Holy Land with its added difficulties and uncertainties.”
The participants came from Israel as well as from Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and Beit Jala in the Palestinian Territories, where it is not easy to obtain permission to cross into Israel. Indeed was thei first opportunity travel to the north of the Holy Land.
I am Meri from Bethlehem … We like to take part in the Franciscan March each year — it’s not always permitted, but when it is, we are very happy.

In this way we can get to know other Christians in the Holy Land. We scarcely noticed the fatigue of all those hours of walking, encouraging each other to live the joy that Jesus gives. Walking with him is a kind of retreat in which we learn more about ourselves as well as Him. And we get to see the Holy Places.

They come from more than twenty parishes in the Holy Land, and are Catholic and Orthodox Christians of all rites. Some even live abroad, and return each year to march with the Franciscans.

I live in Genoa, Italy, where I study dentistry, but I always return because there is something which binds me to this Church and this place. There is something that touches one profoundly, something that is not to be found in other places. I have never found a better place in which to renew our relationship with God and with the Church — and this gives all of us an immense joy! It is an education for life …

They have a rendezvous at Deir Hannah, a village in Galilee, where the march starts. “We have been making this march for twenty years,” explains Friar Badie, “but this is the first time we have set out from Deir Hannah. Here there are only one thousand two hundred Christians, because it is a predominantly Moslem village. Therefore being here is by way of encouragement: to tell the Christians that they are not alone …”
Mass is celebrated in the parish church, and is animated by joyful singing, an effective expression of spiritual and communal living. After the Mass, everyone receives a tau cross, which they will take with them on the walk.
Deir Hannah, Aliabun, Tauran, Cana – and finally Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration and their final destination.
This Franciscan march is a spiritual journey — we young people live this as a rare experience in our daily lives in which we are normally preoccupied, and in which tensions and worries prevent us from thinking of Jesus Christ.”

The goal is finally attained, and at Mount Tabor, the Custos of the Holy Land has arrived to meet these young participants in the Franciscan march.
“In walking together along the roads of the Holy Land,” he tells them, “you have learned to walk in the Light of God, and have known the joy of being together; walking together. This is the synthesis of the Christian faith! In this way,” he encouraged them, “I am certain that the experienced which you have gained will permeate your everyday lives.”

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