Today is our last day in Israel….boy did the time go by fast. We were invited this morning by Father Eamon Kelly, a friend of Deacon John’s, that Susan has been communicating with, to 7:00 AM English mass at the Holy Sepulcher on Calvary and to breakfast after at the Notre Dame Hotel and center. This was perfect since Susan and I had a meeting with the Latin Patriarch, the head of the Knights of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, at 8:15 to receive our Pilgrim Shell as a Knight and Lady of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher (thank you John H. … we are most grateful!).
So we were up again before 6:00 AM to try to find a cab to bring us there. It’s only a 20 minute walk but none of us were really ready for that, especially when it only cost $5 or $ 6 for the 4 of us in a cab. With the invitation, I got out of cooking again, to the delight of all since the tuna and peanut butter were still on the counter. It took awhile to find a cab and we had started walking just in case.
We arrived at the Damascus gate since that was the shortest walk with no steps to the Holy Sepulcher and we got there in time to venerate the unction stone and say a few prayers. The earlier mass finished and we climbed up to Calvary, I can’t imagine carrying a heavy cross up there when I have pull myself up by the rails. We got the seats we had the other day and sat as two Priests entered. Fr. Kelly went right up to Sam, said hello and introduced himself, and went down the line to all of us. Sam look perplexed since he didn’t know that Father was getting the trip reports and photos.
Again, being here in this holy place was overwhelming and was even more special as Father asked if I would read when it came time. We stood together and he showed me the readings and psalm and asked if Susan wanted to do the second reading…..that wasn’t going to happen, so I got to read them all.
Somehow, reading at mass back at the Cathedral will never be the same. Father Kelly walked with us to the Latin Patriarch’s headquarters so we wouldn’t get lost or be late again as we missed our appointment on Friday. Sam and Johna got to come up with us as Father Kelly went to the chapel to pray.
Bishop Williams came to meet us after we were given our capes and were ready for the ceremony. He was wonderful, and as we sat there and talked, coffee was served with some great chocolates. He then got up and blessed Susan and I in the ceremony that several of you may have done.
It was very special and when we were having coffee he explained how important the support of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher was to Jerusalem, not only for the Care of the Holy Sepulcher its self but for all the programs and education that benefit from the money the Knights raise and send here.
When we were done we met Father Kelly, he waited for us because he wanted to make sure we didn’t get lost. (If he only knew how many times we have been lost-but we always manage to get to where we were going.) His schedule was tight and he wanted to spend some time with us so we went to the Notre Dame Center and hotel and had a wonderful breakfast with him. He’s is very funny in dry sense of humor way. When he says something you have to pay attention or you end up scratching your head.
After breakfast we went to the chapel to meet up with him again (very busy as Vicar General). He explained the chapel and we went up to the roof, where you can see almost all of Jerusalem. From one side you face the Old City and as we were there he gave us a 3 minute explanation of the bible……..from before Moses, when he arrived with the chosen people of God to their land of Milk and Honey. It was all within 5 miles of where we stood and was quite interesting.
From there we went to the Shroud of Turin exhibit and he also gave us a quick tour and chronology of the Shroud. (See Photos) Father was pressed for time and we bid farewell. We were going to go back to the Old City but decided to go back to the Apartment to finish packing and getting organized for themorning. Again up at 4:30 to meet Tarek our driver to the airport.
Johna and I went to the mini market for a few things. We ate in, too tired to go out and went to bed early. See you in Rome.
May our Lord Jesus answer all your prayers and petitions.
God Bless all of you
Susan & Tom & the Kids
Sub Tuum Praesidum
We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God;
Despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from
O glorious and blessed Virgin.
May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!
Tom & Susan Melillo
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 (USA)