Holy Land Pilgrimage

9 Days with Dr. John Bergsma and Fr. Mark Bentz

June 16-24, 2020

Why Go on a Pilgrimage?

Ancient Christians would sometimes call the Holy Land, “The Fifth Gospel,” to capture how the sacred sites of Our Lord’s earthly life seemed to preach the Good News afresh to all who visited them.  

Truly, there is nothing like walking in the footsteps of Jesus, seeing the cave where he was born and the cave where his body was interred, and the caves that made up his home in Nazareth.  As G.K. Chesterton said, we Christians are worshipers of the great Caveman.  For it was caves rather than European-style houses and building that served as shelters for the ancient people of Israel.  That is one of the striking lessons from visiting the Holy Land. 

Of course, there are many other sites as well: mountains, like the Mount of Beatitudes, the Mount of the Transfiguration, and the Mount of Olives, each marking a strategic point in Our Lord’s career.  And there are plains and valleys: the Valley of Sharon, so beautiful and verdant it was a symbol of heaven; of the Valley of Gehenna, a burning garbage dump symbolizing hell.  Or the Kidron Valley, where Jesus waded the Kidron brook on the last night before his Passion.  

We will also visit the joyful sites like Cana, where the famous wedding took place; and Bethany, where Our Lord frequently stopped to enjoy the hospitality of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

And let’s not forget the remarkable site of Qumran, where we will walk through the ruins of that ancient Jewish monastery that left us the Dead Sea Scrolls, and possibly take a dip in the Dead Sea, floating high on salt brine as thick as motor oil!

Why go on a pilgrimage?  Because you will never read the Gospels the same again.  Every Gospel at Mass will take on fresh color and verve because you can see the very lay of the land and smell the breeze in your mind’s eye.  Because you’ve been there and touched the rocks, the olive trees, and eaten the fish.  

This pilgrimage is special, because of my new book, Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Jewish Roots of the Church (release date Sept 10, 2019).  I’ve been deep in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient literature for months, putting together a book that I hope will show Christians how thoroughly Jewish and biblical the Church really is.  I’ll have a lot to share with you as we travel through the sacred sites!

One of the most powerful aspects of a pilgrimage for Catholics is that fact that, when you are on pilgrimage, you don’t move through liturgical time, but liturgical space.  For daily Mass, every sacred site has its own liturgical readings!  So it’s like moving through the Liturgical Year and the major feasts in nine days rather than twelve months!  The Gospel speaks powerfully when we celebrate Mass on the site where Jesus multiplied the loaves, for example—or where he was nailed to the cross!

I hope you can join me for this pilgrimage in June 2020! I promise you I’ll be “on duty” and at your service 24-7 for nine days, ready to answer any questions you may have about Scripture, the sacred sites, and how it all fits with our Catholic Faith.  We will also have arguably the most experienced native Catholic guide in the business, Amer Shehadeh, who has guided for Steve Ray, Scott Hahn, and other well-known authors and speakers.  You will love Amer, whose family clan has been Latin-Rite Catholics for centuries, going back to medieval times, and whose home parish is the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth!  Imagine your home parish being built above the site where Gabriel spoke to the Blessed Mother! We will also have Fr. Mark Bentz of St. Alice Church in Springfield, OR as our spiritual director. We will depart from the San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

So please make use of the forms below to sign up for the pilgrimage.  We have provided all the details below. You can also email me as well for further information. 

Sincerely yours in Christ --- John Bergsma

Reactions to the May 2019 pilgrimage:

“Absolutely unbelievable and moving to the depths of my being doesn’t start to describe this pilgrimage. Dr. Bergsma and the local guide (Amer) made it meaningful, educational, fun, organized, and jammed packed with most of the holiest sites in Christian life. The Holy Spirit freely flowed through them and provided a life changing depth of understanding and thirst for further discovery of my faith life. Not a “bucket list” kinda thing. It is an absolutely MUST DO.”
— Paul G., Zionsville, Indiana
“I had the absolute honor of experiencing the Holy Land in a way that will make it meaningful and impactful for the rest of my life. Having Dr. Bergsma to give Biblical accounts of the sights as well as incredible insight into the traditions in the time of Christ was absolutely indispensable. Amer, the local guide, was likewise insightful and gave beautiful first hand knowledge of the region that you can’t get without a local. Between the breathtaking sights and the life changing lectures, this pilgrimage is one that you will wish you could experience over and over.”
— Katie R., Fishers, Indiana
Dr. Bergsma at the famous Qumran Cave 4, where most of the scrolls were found.

Dr. Bergsma at the famous Qumran Cave 4, where most of the scrolls were found.

“It was everything I wanted and more than I expected. Every day was amazing.”
— John T., Pensacola FL
“My expectations were beyond exceeded… The trip felt like a spiritual retreat … I truly encountered Our Lord in the Holy Land and am motivated every day to, like Mary, keep the experience alive in my heart through daily prayer and recollection.”
— Katie P., Denver CO

Dr. John Bergsma Pilgrimage to the Holy Land June 2020

Mon, 15th - Wed, 24th Jun , 2020

DAY 1 (15 Jun 2020)

■ Depart on an overnight flight from San Francisco - SFO with United Airlines Flight 954 at 19:45 . Arrive Tel Aviv TLV at 19:55


Arrival in Tel Aviv’s modern Ben Gurion Airport. We meet our local Catholic guide and transfer to Galilee. Mass and dinner on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Overnight in Tiberias. D

■ Ben gurion
■ Amer Shehadeh
■ Aluma Bus Services ltd
■ The Sea Of Galilee Hotel


Ascend the Mount of Transfiguration (Mount Tabor) early to miss the crowds; then depart for the Wedding Church in Cana for Renewal of Wedding Vows. After lunch in Nazareth, visit the Church of Annunciation for Mass. Visit the House of the Holy Family. Dinner and overnight in Tiberias. B,D

■ Abu El Assal Transport co Ltd.
■ Church of Transfiguration
■ The Wedding Church - The Wedding Church - Renew Wedding Vows
■ Basilica of the Annunciation - Basilica of the Annunciation Mass at 15:00


Mount of Beatitudes for Mass. Continue on to Caesarea Philippi where Jesus said, You are Peter. Drive through Golan Heights; view towards Syrian border. Lunch at Druze restaurant. Visit Tabgha where Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes. Visit the Primacy of Peter where Jesus said, “Feed My sheep”. Drive back to our hotel in Tiberias for dinner and overnight. B,D

■ Mount of Beatitudes - Mount of Beatitudes - Mass at 08:00
■ Nahal Hermon Banias-National park
■ Golan Heights
■ Tabgha Priory
■ Primacy Church of St Peters


Today enjoy a boat ride on Sea of Galilee. Arrive by boat to Capernaum for Mass at St. Peter’s House and the synagogue where Jesus said “Eat My Flesh!” Drive to Bethlehem stopping along the way at Ein Karem to visit the Church of the Visitation. B,D

■ Ancient Boat
■ Holyland Sailling
■ Capernaum-National Park - Capernaum-Mass at 11:00
■ Church of the visitation
■ Saint Joseph Hotel


Today we will support our Christian brothers and sisters by shopping in the local Olive Wood stores. We will celebrate Mass at Shepherd's Field and visit the Church of the Nativity where Jesus was born. We visit ti the Grotto and Next door St. Catherine and the Grotto of St. Jerome. Visit the Israel Museum to see the motel of Jerusalem and the Shrine of the book, Overnight at our hotel in Bethlehem. B,D

■ Shepherds Field - Shepherds Field - Mass at 11:00
■ Church of the Nativity
■ St. Catherine Church
■ St. Jerome Chapel
■ Model Jerusalem
■ Shrine of the Book 


Begin today with Mass at the Garden of Gethsemane. Drive to the Mount of Olives to visit the Church of Pater Noster. Enjoy lunch at Jewish kibbutz. Drive to Mt. Zion to visit the Church of the Dormition and the Upper Room, ending at the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu.Overnight at our hotel in Bethlehem B, D

■ Gethsemane | Mt. Olives | Mt. Zion | Jerusalem Begin today with Mass at the Garden of Gethsemane. Drive to the Mount of Olives to visit the Church of Pater Noster. Enjoy lunch at Jewish kibbutz. Drive to Mt. Zion to visit the Church of the Dormition and the Upper Room, ending at the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu.Overnight at our hotel in Bethlehem B, D
■ Gethsemane - Church of All Nations - Gethsemane - Church of All Nations - Mass at 09:00
■ Pater Noster-Church Eleona
■ Mount of Olives
■ Basilica of the Dormition Abbey
■ The Room of the Last Supper
■ Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu


Depart early this morning and travel along the Via Dolorosa. Arrive at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Touch the top of Mount Calvary. Mass at the tomb of Christ (subject to confirmation.) Return to the Hotel for breakfast. Depart for prayer at the Western Wall. Spend the remainder of the afternoon at your leisure. This evening we will have a special farewell dinner. Overnight at our hotel in BethlehemB, D

■ Via Dolorosa
■ Church of the holy sepulcher
■ Breakfast at hotel
■ Western Wall
■ Free Afternoon 


Drive to the Dead Sea and stop at the Place of Our Lords Baptism to renew our baptismal vows. Stop to look at a Sycamore tree in Jericho and view the Mt. of Temptation. Celebrate morning Mass at the Good Shepherd Church in Jericho. Visit Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered. Continue on our Excursion to the Dead Sea to experience floating in the Dead Sea . Drive back to our hotel Dinner and overnight .

■ Jordan River - Baptism Site
■ Sycamore tree Jericho
■ Jericho-Mount of Temptation
■ Good Shepherd's - Good Shepherd's - Mass at 11:00
■ Qumran-National Park
■ Neve Midbar beach 


Transfer to the airport for our return flight with United Airlines Flight 955 Leaving Tel Aviv - TLV June 24th at 00:55 AM. Arriving San Francisco SFO at 06:00 AM

■ Saint Joseph Hotel
■ Aluma Bus Services ltd
■ Ben Gurion Airport

Quote :
Based on the Following hotels or similar:- 
- Sea of Galilee Hotel Tiberias   June 16-19, 2020   3 nights
- St.  Joseph Hotel Bethlehem   June 19-24, 2020   5 nights     - Total of 8 nights

Price Per Person in US American Dollars based on minimum of 40 people:-   $4040
Single Supplement  $995 
Landside Pilgrimage Only (without airfare): $1790

Payment due dates:
Jan. 15, 2020: 50% deposit of your chosen package price
May 15, 2020: remaining balance of your chosen package price

 The above rates include:-
-8 nights Accommodation on HB basis (Breakfast & Dinner). 
- Round trip airfare  SFO -TLV -SFO
-Tour  guide  throughout
-Transportation in deluxe buses .
-All entrance fees .
-Special Farewell Dinner 
-Audio guiding system in Holy Land.
-Porterage fees at all hotels and airport.
-Mass reservation as per Itinerary
-Taxes on all services, including hotel taxes
- Dead Sea excursion including  Qumran and Israel Museum

 The above rates do not include:-
-Tips for guide , bus driver, restaurants and hotels staff.  ($150 Per person to be collected seperately) 
-Any personal expenses such as telephone calls, beverages, laundry,and medical insurance.
- Lunches. You should budget about $15 per day for lunch.




Once a deposit or partial/full payment has been made, cancellations will only be accepted in writing. Cancellation terms will be applied based on the date that the written cancellation is received. In addition to a $500 per person administration fee, the following charges apply:

60 - 46 days prior to departure 50%

45 - 22 days prior to departure 80%

21 - days prior to departure or less no refund

Additionally, once tickets are issued the ticket value is non-refundable. Requests for a refund must be in writing (mail, fax or e-mail). Phone calls cannot be used as a form of cancellation. Refunds will be issued within 30 to 60 days of receipt of written notice No change of names or substitutions are permitted. No refund or cancellation fees will be waived due to death or sickness.

Pilgrim ONLINE Payment form

Use this form to register for the Bergsma/Bentz June 2020 pilgrimage. You will need a current passport to register. Please submit the following information to register. Upon completion, and invoice will be sent to you for $103.00. This represents a $100 deposit toward your pilgrimage costs, plus a $3 registration/service fee. Please use a credit card to pay the invoice. Upon receipt of payment, you will be officially registered, and will receive a pilgrim number for the pilgrimage via email.

*** Please fill in the following information exactly as it appears on your passport.  Discrepancies will prevent the airline from issuing your ticket. ***

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*  Once you click submit you will be contacted and sent an invoice to pay the registration fee online securely with a credit card.