Gunty is associate publisher/editor of the Catholic Review.


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Family of 7 would like to go from Our Lady of the Mountains in Cumberland, MD.


I would love to go. Planning on taking my granddaughter. She is 11.



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Behind the Headlines

Hand-delivered magazine comes with a request for prayers from Pope Francis

We don’t often hand-deliver copies of the Catholic Review, but for some people, that seems to be the best option.

I had the privilege of accompanying Archbishop William E. Lori and a group of interfaith leaders from Baltimore to Rome for a two-day pilgrimage to pray for peace and healing in the city.

As part of that pilgrimage, the archbishop arranged to introduce the members of the group to Pope Francis at the end of the pope’s general audience March 2 in St. Peter’s Square. We had ideal seats for the audience, in the front two rows, between famed tenor Placido Domingo and his wife, and two other small groups.

I know from past experience that such introductions – called “baciamano,” the Italian word for “kiss” – are brief. I had the occasion to meet St. John Paul twice, in Rome in 1984 and when he visited Phoenix in 1987.

For the opportunity to meet Pope Francis last week, some of the members of our group brought gifts for the Holy Father.

The Rev. Wolfgang Herz-Lane, bishop of the Delaware Maryland Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, gave a stained-glass “Luther rose” to the pope. “The Luther rose is kind of a symbol of Lutheranism, it’s the emblem of Martin Luther and we have a writing by Luther from 1530 in which he explains what the Luther rose stands for and the symbolism of it,” Rev. Herz-Lane said after the papal audience. “It has a black cross in the middle of it, and the outline of a rose. Luther has explanations for the colors and for the shapes, all really focused on Jesus and how Jesus is the center of our lives.”

Rabbi Steven M. Fink of Temple Oheb Shalom brought Baltimore-themed food: Old Bay seasoning, Utz crab-flavored chips, Berger Cookies and chocolate chip cookies baked by his own mother. The mom-baked cookies were very good – the rabbi shared a few with us before we headed to the papal audience, but still had enough to give the pope.

The Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, pastor of Union Baptist Church, handed the pope CDs of his church’s youth choir and senior choir.

William J. McCarthy Jr., executive director of Catholic Charities of Baltimore, presented to Pope Francis an apron commemorating the 35th anniversary of Our Daily Bread, a ministry whose meal program has provided hope to the poor for 12,700 consecutive days, with more than 7.2 million meals served. McCarthy said that when he met the pope, “talking about our work in West Baltimore, talking about the work of Catholic Charities, particularly Our Daily Bread and our 35 years, I could see a smile on his face, a firmer handshake and ‘continue,’ the word ‘continue.’”

For my part, I wanted the pope to know about our new magazine and ask him to pray for the important work we are doing in the Catholic press here in Maryland. Fortunately, our March issue featured a cover photo of Pope Francis praying before St. Juan Diego’s tilma at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. I presented the magazine to him, and he looked at it and said, “Oh, ‘The Shrine of God,’” referring to the headline that quoted from his homily at the Marian shrine, in which he said, “The shrine of God is the faces of the many people we encounter each day.”

I was awestruck to meet the pope and to be able to ask for his prayers. Up close, you can sense his humility. He focuses on you and – even for just a minute – he engages with you. Popes are not God – but they do represent our Lord as the Vicar of Christ on Earth. It’s a blessing to be in his presence.

The moment is over in an instant, but it stays with you forever.

Read coverage of the pilgrimage Day 1 here, and Day 2 here.

Listen to a radio report on the pilgrimage. Click on the March 13 edition of
"Catholic Baltimore."

March 11, 2016 03:15
By Christopher Gunty

How many lives will be further ruined by the lack of mental health care screening, treatment?

Five children were injured in May in two separate incidents involving bounce houses, those huge inflatable amusement devices often rented for carnivals and parties. Sure, parents should be concerned about allowing their children to play on a potentially dangerous device. The Consumer Product Safety Commission will open an investigation, according to USA Today, in light of the fact that at least 10 inflatables collapsed or blew away in 2011, and injuries more than doubled from 2008 to 2010.

It’s great that a trend was identified, and action taken fairly quickly to look into the aspects of inflatables that might cause harm.

But that doesn’t happen every time someone is injured or killed. Some we get used to.

When two students created a massacre at Columbine School in 1999 – 15 years ago now – killing 13 and injuring at least 24, one would have reasonably expected that Americans – politicians and citizens; parents and children; law enforcement, gun advocates and gun critics – would have all come together to take action to stem such senseless violence. But in the intervening years, names and places such as Tucson, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and the Columbia Mall have added more faces to the tragic stories. Add Isla Vista, Calif., to that list, where 22-year-old Elliott Rodger allegedly stabbed his roommates and then shot three more people while injuring 13 in the area around the University of California Santa Barbara, before killing himself May 23. The ready availability of guns and other weapons, combined with inadequate mental health screening and treatment results in tragedy after tragedy after tragedy.

The evident pain expressed by Michael Martinez, the father of Isla Vista victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez, might have been prevented had the law-enforcement authorities who did a “wellness check” on Rodger had done a better background check. Rodger’s parents expressed concern over videos their son had made and posted on YouTube, prompting the visit to the young man’s home. The authorities apparently didn’t watch the videos for themselves, or check a database that showed that Rodger had recently (and legally) purchased several weapons and ammunition. Rodger eventually admitted before his rampage that had they entered his home and seen his weapons, they would have foiled his plans to wreak havoc.

How much more outrage will it take for Congress to act to plug the holes in the universal background check system to eliminate the shield for private sales? When even an attack on a federal congresswoman – doing her job, listening to constituents at a public forum at a grocery store – cannot prompt action, then Congress must be stalemated indeed.

How many lives will be further ruined by the lack of mental health care screening and treatment programs? Life is tough for all of us; for some those challenges can become crippling. And for some, when their disease is not under control, they become dangerous, to themselves and to others.

“When will this insanity stop?” Richard Martinez asked after his son was shot. “When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness; we don’t have to live like this’? Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: Not one more.”

According to Catholic News Service, since the May 23 shooting in California, the state’s lawmakers have been busy re-examining the state’s gun-control laws. A new bill was introduced May 28 in the state Legislature that would allow friends or family members concerned that someone may commit a violent act to notify law enforcement officials. The bill also would allow police to investigate the threat and request a restraining order from a judge preventing the person from purchasing a firearm or keeping one they already own.

Will such laws be enough, without addition public support for enhanced mental health treatment? Who needs to be convinced that this problem begs for a solution? Can we begin today?

June 06, 2014 10:54
By Christopher Gunty

Roman holiday makes for unusual celebration day for pallium group

ROME – Archbishop William E. Lori capped off an eventful day after receiving the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI with celebrations large and more intimate.
The Baltimore archbishop, along with other archbishops from the Unites States – Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver – were joined by hundreds of well-wishers at the Pontifical North American College for a reception.
Each archbishop greeted relatives, friends and members of their old and new dioceses under a canopy in the NAC’s courtyard. Despite Rome’s 90-degree heat, a nice breeze and the shade of the courtyard actually felt fairly comfortable.
In the evening, Archbishop Lori and about 50 guests enjoyed a celebration dinner at a large restaurant outside the city of Rome.
Due to the fact that June 29, the fest of Sts. Peter and Paul is a city holiday in honor of the city’s patron saints, the streets and the restaurant were nearly empty, making for an unusual experience in Rome – an easy transport and a non-crowded banquet hall.
Archbishop Lori said the evening would be short on speeches, and just an expression of his gratitude for those who celebrated his big day, including cousins, and pilgrims from the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
He quickly doffed his suit coat, and made his way around the room, thanking all the guests for coming to Rome for the pallium ceremony. Consensus was that the Mass was extraordinary.
In the Roman tradition, dinner was a six-course affair, featuring a roast pig that was paraded around the dining room, sparklers and all.
After dinner, the archbishop indeed kept his remarks very brief, noting that he was “honored by your prayers with me and for me,” before thanking those who had organized and coordinated the pilgrimage details.
“And what about that pig!” he added, to much laughter.
The celebrations continue with Mass June 30 at the Altar of the Tomb of St. Peter, near where the palliums were stored the evening before the pallium ceremony. After that, the new archbishops and their pilgrim groups will join Pope Benedict in the Paul VI Hall for a special audience.
For the pilgrimage group, a tour of the other major basilicas in Rome – St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major – will complete the touring July 1, ending with Mass at St. Mary Major.
And then, for most, they say goodbye to Rome and head home to the States in tiem for the Fourth of July.

June 29, 2012 06:24
By Christopher Gunty

Baltimore archbishop prepares for pallium in Rome


ROME – Pilgrims joining Archbishop William E. Lori in the Eternal City to witness the ceremony in which he will receive the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI had a busy first couple of days. The group includes some folks from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, as well as some of the archbishop’s former flock in Bridgeport, Conn.

Several priests from the archdiocese and other lay leaders joined the group for some Masses and a couple of other events.

The archbishop began the pilgrimage by welcoming the pilgrims at the Pontifical North American College, the seminary in Rome for students from the U.S. (and Australia).

The next day was packed with a tour and Mass at the Basilica of San Clemente, a tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, and then a reception at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

The archbishop used the Mass at the NAC to pray especially for vocations to the priesthood. Praying “in the shadow of the dome which rises above the tomb of St. Peter,” Archbishop Lori said that Peter, the first pope, responded to Jesus’ call to “feed my sheep,” and he noted that Christ has extended that call “down through the centuries, so that the Gospel can be preached to us, and the sacraments of salvation can be celebrated for us.

“After all,” he continued, “without priests, there’s no Eucharist, and without the Eucharist, there’s no hope.”

Before the Mass at San Clemente, Dominican Father Terrence Crotty, rector of the basilica, provided a tour of the basilica, which is unique in that it is a functioning church for the faithful of today of today within a 12th-century church, built upon a 4th-century Christian church, which itself was built upon the remains of a 1st-century Roman building. With the 90-degree heat sweltering Rome, the pilgrims appreciated the cool respite on the tour of the foundations of the church and Roman building below ground.

During his homily, Archbishop Lori made reference to the special connection San Clemente has to the Archdiocese of Baltimore and his own ministry, as it was the titular church of his predecessor in Baltimore and Bridgeport, Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan. He also made reference in his homily to the spectacular 12th-century frescoe above the altar of the Cross as the Tree of Life, gesturing frequently to the artwork that shows Jesus standing with his arms outstretched in the manner of a priest celebrating Mass.

Archbishop William E. Lori delivers his homily from the pulpit of the Basilica of San Clemente, the titular church of the late Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan. (Christopher Gunty | CR Staff)

In the afternoon, pilgrims got a whirlwind tour of the Vatican Museums with one of the finest museum guides available, art historian Dr. Elizabeth Lev. Pointing out that the Vatican museums are considered in the class with the Louvre and other great museums in the world based on the strength of their collections and the number of visitors, she said the reason for the Vatican’s collection is what sets it apart – its proximity to the dome of St. Peter’s, above the tomb of the saint.

Referring to Peter’s death at the hands of the Romans, she said they dumped him in a hole and filled it with dirt, and covered it with bricks to make sure another Christian’s body didn’t walk away.

“They thought they were throwing away the trash; instead they planted a seed,” Lev said.

In a tour that brought to life the scultures, tapestries and paintings of the museum, the Sistine Chapel – not the Sixteenth Chapel, Justin Bieber – and St. Peter’s Basilica itself, Lev reminded the pilgrims continuously that the art within constantly expressed a deeper message about humanity’s relationship to God.

Completing the tour in St. Peter’s Square, she pointed out the sculptures of saints lining the top of Bernini’s colonnade, whose “arms” reach out to embrace the piazza and all who visit. All kinds of holy men and women are represented there, she noted, each one providing us “someone you can look up to, someone you can emulate, some you can relate to.”

Taking away a message like this is essential to such a visit; it’s what a pilgrimage is about, Lev insisted. “It revitalizes you – sends you back into the world.”

As evening drew on, the pilgrims had a chance to join all four of the U.S. archbishops receiving the pallium at Vila Richardson, the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, currently Miguel H. Diaz.

Archbishop William E. Lori chats with Miguel H. Diaz, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and his wife, Marian, who hosted pilgrims at their residence, Vila Richardson. (Christopher Gunty | CR Staff)


The other archbishops are Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, and Archbishop William C. Skurla of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh (Ruthenian).

Ambassador Diaz and his wife, Marian, hosted the outdoor reception for the archbishops and their guests. Chatting informally with the guests later on, the Diazes discussed the role of the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, not as one who makes trade deals or other typical roles of an ambassador, but as one who seeks a convergence between the Holy See and U.S. foreign policy. Issues such as human trafficking, global health, peace-building and support of religious minorities carry over from administration to administration, Diaz said.

Having been a theology professor and dean at a Catholic seminary in Florida before entering the diplomatic corps, he told Archbishop Lori that it’s unusual for a diplomat to have the background in philosophy and theology that he brings to his post.

He told the archbishop that academic life still beckons, but that he considers his diplomatic service “a break (from academia) out of service to his country.”

Speaking of the theology and philosophy he encounters at the Vatican, he later told guests, “I was teaching this stuff, and now I’m part of it.”

Archbishop William E. Lori chats with U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, who serves as prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith in Rome. (Christopher Gunty | CR Staff)


June 28, 2012 08:20
By Christopher Gunty

Embracing the future of the Catholic press

Change can revitalize an organization. It’s not worth changing things just for the sake of change, but when faced with a real need, organizations must embrace the challenge. The Catholic Review and its parent company, The Cathedral Foundation Inc., have begun a strategic planning process to chart a path for the next three to five years as a Catholic newspaper and publishing company. The Cathedral Foundation includes more than just The Catholic Review; One of the things that drove us to this planning is the realization that while some people continue to enjoy holding a printed newspaper in their hands, the narrow definition of “newspaper” no longer fully defines what we do. Several years ago, The Catholic Review launched one of the most robust websites in the Catholic press, a website that now needs an overhaul and update. In the last year, we branched out into social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and made more frequent use of an e-mail newsletter. Our newsroom staff is blogging more these days, too. But that’s just a start. Our Strategic Planning Committee includes three members of our board of trustees, and about 10 other professionals from media, ministry and technology around Maryland. Patricia Bosse of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, a board member and committee chairwoman, summed up the strategic planning task early on in a discussion over the summer: How do we maintain and enhance the rhythm of communications we have through The Catholic Review in the Archdiocese of Baltimore? Our group has a few more meetings before it presents ideas and a proposal in mid-January to Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, our chairman and publisher, and the board. So far, we are focusing on The Catholic Review becoming a wide-ranging Catholic news vehicle/portal that addresses many different age groups. A print newspaper continues to be our primary ministry, but we should expand our efforts to publish news and information on the Web, in e-newsletters and perhaps develop apps for e-readers and smart phones. The information in one format might not be the same as that delivered in another platform. What do you, as a reader, think of this direction? How do you use the information in The Catholic Review? How do you access it now (print or online)? What would you like to see in the future? Share your thoughts with us at, or write to Strategic Planning, The Catholic Review, P.O. Box 777, Baltimore, MD 21201. If you are interested in being part of a focus group to talk about some of the plans we’re making, write to us at the same address or click here. It’s an exciting time to be working in this ministry of the word. We can’t wait to see what the future holds. But we’re not just waiting; we’re actively shaping it. – Christopher Gunty Editor, Associate Publisher 12/14/2010

December 14, 2010 05:38
By Christopher Gunty

Bishop Madden, priests from Baltimore visit Bethlehem University in West Bank

By Christopher Gunty

BETHLEHEM, West Bank – The newest building at Bethlehem University, completed in the year 2000 and appropriately called the Millennium Building, was struck by shells fired by the Israelis. Other parts of the campus were hit as well.

The damage has since been repaired, and other than the hole in the library building/heritage center that has now become a porthole window, and machine-gun scars that pock-mark the walls of some buildings, most of the campus seems secure.

“I don’t know what the message was supposed to be,” de La Salle Christian Brother Joe Loewenstein said of the guided-missile attack on the school, the first university in the Palestinian Territories, but he knows it was not a mistake.

“They said they saw somebody with a gun or something,” he said wryly. As the president emeritus of Bethlehem U, he sounds as though he has trouble believing the claim.

The university aims to be unabashedly Catholic-Christian, and yet be a place where the region’s Muslim majority are comfortable attending. In fact, with Christians comprising less than 1 percent of the population in the Palestinian territories, it might come as a surprise that 30 percent of the 3,000 students are Christian and 70 percent are Muslim.

To encourage understanding of each other’s cultures, all students are required to take a religious studies course that teaches students about both Christian and Muslim cultures.

While on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land Oct. 12-21, Bishop Denis J. Madden, auxiliary of Baltimore, and 23 priests from the archdiocese and nearby dioceses visited Bethlehem for a day. After celebrating an early Mass Oct. 14 at the site of Christ’s birth and visiting the Grotto of the Nativity, the group visited Bethlehem University for a briefing and a visit with students.

The university was established in 1973 as one of three initiatives – along with the Tantur ecumenical institute and the Ephphatha school for the deaf – at the urging of Pope Paul VI after his visit to the Holy Land in 1967.

Ala Sharif, a fourth-year student who is a Muslim, said she has no problems relating to her classmates; if possible, she hopes to start her own business after completing a master’s degree.

The priests talked with students about prospects for peace, not only among Christians and Muslims within Palestine, but with Israelis on the other side of the 700-mile-long wall that separates the West Bank and Palestinian territories from Israeli-occupied settlements.

Bishara Nassar, a recent graduate and one of the school’s ambassadors, said peace must begin from the ground up. “Peace will never come from the governments; it will not come through the peace process,” he told the group.

Another fourth-year student, Tareq Shahwam, agreed, though he believes it will not be even his generation, but the next, that can achieve peace.

“We need to break down the physical barriers and then break down the psychological barriers,” he said, adding that most of those in his Palestinian generation “would recognize Israel if they would recognize us.”

However, with the requirement for service in the Israeli military for people his age, Shahwam fears that they are already indoctrinated.

“The next generation,” he said, “if you can put other ideas in their head that Palestinians are people too,” then there may be a chance for peace.

De LaSalle Christian Brother Jack Curran, vice president for development for Bethlehem University, told the priests that 2,000 years ago, “people came to Bethlehem because a star led them.” Gesturing toward the eight students who had shared their experiences with the group, he said, “Brother Joe (Loewenstein) and I and people like us stay in Bethlehem because stars lead us.”

– Bethlehem, Oct 19, 2010

November 09, 2010 11:44
By Christopher Gunty

Father Steve's reflection: Living side by side

The Western Wall had a great impact on several priests on our pilgrimage, as you’ll see in this reflection from Father Steve Hook. – CG

Bishop Denis J. Madden prepares to celerate the fractioning rite during the Liturgy of the Eucharist in a Mass for a pilgrimage of priests from Maryland inside the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem Oct. 15. (Catholic Review photo | Christopher Gunty)

This entire pilgrimage was awe-inspiring, yet overwhelming. It is going to take me years to fully appreciate what I have experienced by my journey to the Holy Land and being able to walk where Jesus walked and pray where Jesus taught.

One of the highlights that comes to mind for me was actually the day we celebrated Mass at the Holy Sepulcher, then walked the Via Dolorosa through the streets of the Old City, which ended at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount with the view of the Dome of the Rock. It seemed to be the one place on earth where Christianity, Judaism and Islam converged, and at least while we were there, were living side by side.

As we approached the Western Wall, I was thinking to myself what it was that I wanted to pray for that day. The custom is to either write a prayer and place it in the wall or just touch the wall and voice your prayer in silence.

The Dome of the Rock overlooks Temple Mount and the Western Wall Plaza, one of the most sacred sites in the world for Judaism. (Catholic Review photo | Christopher Gunty)

I was thinking of so many things and people that I should include in my prayers but I couldn't settle on any one person or request. So as I approached the wall, my mind was scattered in all directions. But as soon as my hands touched the wall, a prayer intention miraculously became clear: Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. It is a prayer that is mentioned throughout the Scriptures, which also say that Jesus wept over Jerusalem, which would be destroyed.

As I reflected upon this prayer throughout the rest of the trip, and even still today, I believe that is the, and ought to be, the ongoing and daily prayer of all peoples of faith. It is a prayer not only for the Jerusalem here on earth, but also a prayer of hope for all of us, as we await the coming of the new Jerusalem in the kingdom of God. Father Stephen Hook Pastor, St. Augustine Parish, Williamsport, MD Oct. 30, 2010 See a related entry here.

Pilgrims approach the Western Wall, one of the most sacred sites int he world for Judaism. People of all faiths come from around the world to bring their prayers to this holy place. (Catholic Review photo | Christopher Gunty)

October 30, 2010 09:06
By Christopher Gunty

Father Ty’s reflection: An indelible impression on mind, heart and soul

The priests in the group continue to share some of their reflections on the pilgrimage. Here’s a different perspective from Father Ty Hullinger. – CG

A memorial monument outside the Yad Vadhem Holocaust History Museum in Israel. (Catholic Review photo | Christopher Gunty)

“For me, one special pilgrimage encounter was our visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust (Shoah) History Museum in Jerusalem. I had heard many people talk of its importance and the impact it can have on the one who visits it: from our own Cardinal William H. Keeler to the many rabbis and cantors I have known. I must say that the experience touched me deeply, and has left an indelible impression in my mind and heart (and, dare I say, soul?). I have visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., numerous times, and it is a powerful place of memory, but Yad Vashem had further layers and depths of meaning for me. One of the first exhibits was on the Church’s influence in inflaming the powers of hate, anti-Semitism, and anti-Judaism by a preaching of contempt for the Jewish People, especially during the Middle Ages. Yad Vashem did not shy away from presenting the disturbing images coming from within the Church of depictions in art, architecture, etc. of the Jewish people as rejected or accursed. And this was easy fuel for Nazis to ignite into flames of contempt, hatred and destruction. I appreciated the fact that Yad Vashem did not chose to ignore this tragic history, but presented it upfront, as one of the first exhibit panels, forcing us to move beyond our complacencies.

And as we journeyed to the Hall of Names, where Yad Vashem has collected more than 3.5 million (of the estimated 6 million) names of Jewish men, women and children who perished in the crimes of the Shoah, I was confronted with the knowledge that of the names already collected at Yad Vashem, there were Hullingers and Hollingers, mostly from Southern Ukraine and Romania, who perished in the death camps. Are these distant relatives? Why does my family have no knowledge of them? The general assumption among the elders of my family is that we are descendants of German and Swiss Protestants. But is there more to my own family tree? Is there another history of my family that has been forgotten (deliberately or not)? The Hall of Names is a circular room, painted black, that is in reality a library of names and memories. About half of the shelves are already filled with huge black books containing the names and information of 3.5 million Jewish victims who are known. The other half is empty. It reminds you that there are still so many lives hidden among the horrors of what happened, waiting to be discovered by relatives and friends. Many may never be remembered because there were no immediate survivors among family and friends. That is a haunting thought. As if the designer knew these emotions would surface, the Hall’s ceiling is a cylinder of portraits of victims, faces that swirl upward to the light. But the middle of the floor is the reverse image of the ceiling. It is a dark abyss, literally a pit that extends down into darkness below. How much has been lost by the cruelty of human persons? This “empty tomb” immediately reminded me of the empty tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. So much remains unknown, and unknowable to us.

Father Ty Hullinger prays at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of the most sacred sites in Judaism, and also welcomes those of other faiths. (Catholic Review photo | Christopher Gunty)

This pilgrimage leaves me with new questions to consider. Maybe that is why we make pilgrimages to holy places. Our presumptions and assumptions about our faith will be challenged on a pilgrimage. Dreams and ideas confront reality, geography, and even family history. Pilgrimages pose difficult issues and questions that the pilgrim must wrestle with. So like Jacob who wrestled with God (or his angel) in the night, I too now am confronting the difficult but necessary and life-fulfilling questions God is posing to me.

Father Ty Hullinger Pastor, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Most Precious Blood Parish, St. Dominic Parish; Baltimore Oct. 27, 2010

October 28, 2010 09:19
By Christopher Gunty

Father Peter's reflection: 'Saints and sinners rub shoulders in these streets'

I asked the priests in the group to share their some of their reflections on the pilgrimage. Here’s one from Third Order Regular of St. Francis Father Peter Lyons. – CG

Priests from the Baltimore area stop for prayer along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering or Way of Grief) during Stations of the Cross in the streets of Jerusalems Old City. Vendors\

In the narrow, crowded streets of the Old City of Jerusalem the sacred and the secular come face to face. For me it brought home once again the reality of the Incarnation, that Jesus really took on our humanity and pitched his tent right here in the messiness of this world of ours and this life of mine. Saints and sinners rub shoulders in these streets. Some are carrying a cross or praying the rosary or singing hymns. Others are selling fruits and vegetables, tacky souvenirs, T-shirts with crude sayings – while cripples and beggars sit by the side of the road and, more than likely, a few thieves and prostitutes ply their trades as well. And slowly the truth sinks in, that God is the God of all of them. All are his children. He loves each of them – each of us – maybe the prostitutes and beggars more than those we might label as righteous. And the Christ who came among us has commissioned us to continue to deliver this message. This is the mystery of faith which we are so privileged to celebrate, and which came alive once more as we walked in his footsteps in the Holy Land. Fr. Peter Lyons, TOR Pastor, St. Ann Parish, St. Wenceslaus Parish, Baltimore Oct. 26, 2010

Father Peter Lyons (white shirt, at left) participates in the Way of the Cross with the pilgrimage of priests from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The prayerful procession wended its way through the narrow streets of Jerusalem\

October 28, 2010 08:58
By Christopher Gunty

Father Augustine's reflection: Peace beyond words

The priests in the group continue to share some of their reflections on the pilgrimage. Here’s one from Missionary of St. Paul Father Augustine Inwang. – CG

Father Augustine Inwang blesses himself with water from the Jordan River during a pilgrimage with priests from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. (Catholic Review photo | Christopher Gunty)

As far as I am concerned, the pilgrimage that we made to the Holy Land was a trip of a lifetime. I was blessed to be in the company of those who went on the trip. I am blessed and very privileged to have been in the company of Bishop Denis J. Madden. I don’t think my first trip to the Holy Land could have been half as wonderful and spirit-filled as it was if the bishop was not directing the journey.

The high point of the pilgrimage for me was our last day in Tiberias. Early that morning I went out to pray behind the hotel looking at the Sea of Galilee. There it was easy to look across the lake to Nazareth on one side and Capernaum on the other, to imagine all the activities that took place there during the time of Jesus: the Sermon on the Mount (the Beatitudes), the feeding of the 5,000, the primacy of Peter, the walking on the sea, and even Jesus sleeping on the boat. It was an experience that will be difficult to describe. The peace that I felt and favors received while there are beyond words.

Father Augustine Inwang, MSP, prays Oct. 15 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of the most sacred sites in the world for Jewish people and those of many faiths. (Catholic Review photo | Christopher Gunty)

The journey was not just a pilgrimage, it was indeed a retreat. The reflections of Bishop Madden during the Masses celebrated were deep and spirit-filled. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to travel in such a great group of caring and compassionate priests. I have no doubts that the priesthood is the best profession in the world and I am grateful to God be counted as one his priests. Fr. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP Pastor, Transfiguration Roman Catholic Congregation, Baltimore Oct. 26, 2010

October 26, 2010 02:38
By Christopher Gunty

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