Father Rene Pulgarin, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, Keyport, leads a pilgrimage at the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Courtesy photos
Father Rene Pulgarin, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, Keyport, leads a pilgrimage at the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Courtesy photos

Pastors and parishioners throughout the Diocese took to the Holy Land during October for pilgrimages, some having waited for more than two years for pandemic restrictions to abate.

A contingent of pilgrims from St. Paul Parish, Princeton, still in the Holy Lands until Oct. 28, were finally able to journey for 11 days with parochial vicar, Father Carlo Calisin, and Msgr. Joseph N. Rosie, former St. Paul’s pastor and current pastor of St. James Parish, Red Bank. Among many pilgrimage sites explored, they walked and prayed along the Via Dolorosa (Christ’s Good Friday journey to Calvary), attended Mass in the Lord’s Tomb celebrated by Msgr. Rosie, and Mass along the Jordan River celebrated by Father Calisin. Some travelers will opt to extend the trip by three days to tour Jordan.

Meanwhile Father Rene Pulgarin, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Keyport, accompanied a group of 25 pilgrims on a 10-day Holy Land pilgrimage beginning Oct. 17; the group will return Oct. 27. The pilgrims were able to see numerous sites, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. “It has been a blessing for all of us,” said Father Pulgarin, “and the Diocese and vocations are in our daily prayers.”

Concurrently, St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, sent a pilgrimage group to the Holy Land Oct. 17-27 with Father Daniel F. Swift, pastor, as spiritual director. Visiting numerous biblical sites such as Caesarea Philippi, Cana, Nazareth, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and many more, Father Swift commented, “It is always my privilege to bring the faithful to the Holy Land and holy places that marked the life of Jesus and Mary. This is the third time I’ve been blessed to be here, and I learn and discover more with every visit.”