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27 - 30 September 1997
Over 3,000 Catholics – including an estimated 500 living in the Holy Land – from 47 countries traveling in 77 buses participated in the first ever “Jesus in Jerusalem Retreat” organized by ICCRS from September 24 to 29, 1997. Twenty-two percent were English speaking, 20% Spanish, 15% Arab, 13% French, 12% Italian, 8% Portuguese, 5% Indonesian, 3% German 1.7% Hebrew, and 0.3% Japanese. One hundred forty priests and three bishops were also present. We came as pilgrims, seeking God. In prophecy, the Lord said:
“Be encouraged and strengthened for this gathering will be most pleasing to Me. Once more the standard of the Savior-Redeemer will be lifted up in Jerusalem for many nations to see, especially My own Jewish people. Once more I will be lifted up to bring conversation, salvation and healing by the witness of the gathering of the Body of Christ – those especially chosen to be My People of the Holy Spirit. This witness will leave a lasting impression in Jerusalem. All will be well. I am EMMAUEL – God with you. I go before you”.
God did indeed give us His favor in Galilee, in Bethlehem and in Jerusalem.
A potentially disastrous incident occurred on our first evening together.
ICCRS had invited Catholics from local Arab parishes to attend the healing service. When they arrived at the gate with their sick and elderly, in greater numbers than expected, they blocked traffic on all the adjoining streets. Many retreatants were not able to enter either. The owner, startled and unaware, refused them to entry. The Israeli police were called and arrived. There was shouting, shoving and pushing. Disappointment, anger and resentment rose. Some simply left. When informed, the ICCRS Council proceeded to the buses to offer prayers for the sick while the retreatants’ hearts went out to the local Christians. All began to pray that God would intervene. Then, unexpectedly, it happened: there was a change. The police opened the gate and everyone was able to enter the grounds. The ICCRS Councilors offered to pray for them and many rested in the Spirit. Father Rufus ministered God’s love and power from the podium. The Lord’s hand was manifest and they received a great blessing.
ICCRS Councilors cooperated with over 200 Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) leaders who led national pilgrimages which tied in with the international retreat.
Retreatants were grouped by language for various events including the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee; Saturday Eucharists at different shrines; Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament on Monday at different shrines; the torch-light procession and the prayer meetings in the Ge Ben-Hinnom Valley where we walked humbly, atoning for our own sins and those of the whole world in the place Jesus called “Gehenna”. This had never been done before in the Holy Land. The power and presence of God was clearly manifested at these times.
Father Raniero Cantalamessa
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, our Retreat Master, called on us to be willingly “immersed, baptized in the death of Jesus”. He impressed on us the need to “empty ourselves of our “self” as Jesus had emptied Himself of His self” (Phil 2:5-11). After witnessing to his decision of “handing over the reins of his life into the hands of Jesus”, he stressed the importance of submitting our own lives to Jesus so we could truly “know” Him and be led by His Spirit.
Local Arab Christians
From the start, ICCRS decided it would bring comfort and encouragement to Palestinian Christians. Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation concerning the increased needs of the Church of the Holy Land says, “Were their presence to cease, the Shrines would be without the warmth of this leaving witness, and the Christian Holy Places of Jerusalem and the Holy Land would become like museums. (…) It is a community that in the course of history has undergone innumerable trials and has suffered painful difficulties. Internal division, persecutions from without and, for some time now, emigration have weakened it, leaving it no longer self-supporting, and therefore in need of our understanding and of our moral and material help”.
Outreach to local Christians
ICCRS provided speakers for the local charismatic who organized Life in the Spirit workshops which were well attended by Palestinian and other residents. Some new prayer groups have sprung up since. We also attempted to bring a financial blessing to the Palestinian Christians. They in turn blessed us with outstanding cooperation and help, especially in Bethlehem and through Scouts.
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter November-December 1997.
In 1997, the Universal Church is entering a phase of preparation for the Jubilee of the year 2000. In this year, Pope John Paul II calls on us to focus our attention on “Jesus, the one Savior of the world, yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8).
Moreover, next year we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. What better place to celebrate these two event than Jerusalem, where Christianity itself began?
The ICCRS Council is inviting leaders from around the world to organize a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and while there, to attend an ICCRS Retreat in Jerusalem in September 1997. Catholics from all over the world will be converging on Jerusalem to give testimony of their love for Jesus and of their love for the people of God living in the Holy Land: Jews and Christians.
Living stones of the Holy Land
There will be meeting with local Christians, especially the Catholics, through a candle or torch procession down the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. Before and after the Retreat, tour groups will be encouraged to liaise with local Catholic parishes all across the Holy Land. Our retreat will also have an ecumenical side as we focus, with protestants and Orthodox, on the central place of Jesus, of the Word of God and of Faith.
There will be contacts with the Jewish People as we focus on the Jewish roots of Christianity.
Speakers from around the world
The following speakers and leaders to date have confirmed their participation: Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap of Italy; Doudou Scallens, Abraham Kron of the Beatitudes of Community and Ephraim, its founder, from France; Bishop Sam Jacobs and Sr. Nancy Kellar of the USA; Fr. Rufus Pereira from India; Fr. Bart Pastor of the Philippines; Mr. Charles Whitehead of England; Mr. Allan Panozza of Australia; Mr. Josè Prado Flores of Mexico; Maria Lucia Vianna of Brazil; Nikol Baldacchino from Malta; and Henri Lemay of Canada.
Registration fee: To attend the “Jesus in Jerusalem” Retreat everyone must pay $225US. This allows one to participate in all the activities of the Retreat, including the pre-retreat activity. The registration fee does not include any travel expenses, accommodation, meals, etc.
Appointments: E1 A1 has been appointed the official carrier, while Stella Maris, a division of Ophir Tours, has been appointed by ICCRS land agent in the Holy Land for the ICCRS “Jesus in Jerusalem” Retreat 1997. Stella Maris is a Catholic organization with multiple contacts with Catholic and Orthodox communities.
National coordinators are being appointed in over 100 countries. Their responsibilities include: to promote the Retreat in each country; to encourage as many leaders from each country to organize a pilgrimage package.
Ottawa: This ICCRS event is organized from Ottawa, Canada, and assisted by the ICCRS Rome office.
How to participate: Any individual (a priest, a religious, a lay person) or institution (NSC, a community, a prayer group, etc.) can organize his/her own tour pilgrimage to the Holy Land and include the ICCRS Jerusalem Retreat in their program. Write to our Ottawa office to obtain more detailed information on how to organize your own group.
Travel Agents: To attend, your travel agency must register your tour with the Ottawa office. It will then receive instructions concerning logistics and procedures that must be adhered to.