Sr. Rose Mercurio (SSND) received a life changing gift last year. An anonymous donor provided the funds to send her on a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Of the other pilgrims, 18 were from All Saints Parish in St. Peter’s, MO when they traveled in February of 2016. Sr. Betty Myers, who also works at The Sarah Community, was part of the group.
A pilgrimage is different from tourist travel. It is not a vacation. Time is intentionally set aside for prayer, study, and reflection in order to allow God to enter the pilgrims’ hearts and help them to grow spiritually. Strong bonds often form between group members, and Sr. Rose says that they continue to gather together each month to reminisce about their encounter with the holy.
Sr. Rose says that being steeped in the reality that Jesus tread the same streets and paths that she was walking provided one of those encounters. She says that “Jesus became a very real person to me during these days and continues to be that real person.”
Sr. Rose will never forget her first morning there when gazing upon the Sea of Galilee left her breathless. They took a trip on the Sea and she remembers Jesus saying “do not be afraid…Peace be with you…I am with you always.” Even today, when tensions arise, she closes her eyes and remembers the beautiful Sea and is reminded of His loving words “Peace be with you…do not be afraid.”
Being afraid of heights, a trip through a mountain range presented a test for Sr. Rose. The brown mountains stretched as far as the eye could see, with one of the areas named the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”. Recalling Psalm 23, a feeling of deep peace came over her once again and washed away her fear.
Praying at the Wailing Wall, where millions have voiced their petitions to God over the centuries, was a deeply moving experience. Sharing that holy space with other pilgrims as well as soldiers left her with hope for the future of the Holy Land.
Sr. Rose continues to pray for her benefactor everyday even though she does not know their name. The sense of community she feels with the pilgrimage group brings tremendous joy when they gather together each month to recall the wonders that they experienced. She also relives the experience when presenting about it to groups at The Sarah Community. Thanks to an anonymous donor, we can all share in her inspiring pilgrimage to the Holy Land.