We are happy to announce that Fr. Graham Keep will be the priest for Renewal Ministries’ fortieth anniversary pilgrimage to Greece “In the Footsteps of St. Paul,” in May of 2020! You can learn more and register here.
By Fr. Graham Keep
Some twenty-five years ago, as a newly ordained priest, a couple invited me to come with them on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was hosted by a familiar organization called “Renewal Ministries.” This pilgrimage changed my life, particularly as a young priest. I walked in the footsteps of Jesus. I was with a group of people who loved the Lord. We celebrated Holy Mass and prayed devotions at amazing holy sites. Sacred Scripture came more alive for me. I met a number of people, many of whom I am still friends with to this day, having shared the experience together. I encountered Jesus on pilgrimage.
Since then, I have had the privilege to guide various themed pilgrimages to many different holy sites across the world. I can say without hesitation that every time I have led a pilgrimage, there have been miracles, signs, and wonders. A pilgrimage is both an exterior and an interior journey. The exterior journey is to experience the sights, smells, and tastes of the places where saints walked, prayed, and grew in their faith. The interior journey helps us to go deeper into our own faith. As a priest, celebrating Holy Mass with a congregation of believers in these holy places is always inspiring. There are always moments of intense encounter with Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, revealing the mercy of the Father.
The question is, why should I go on pilgrimage? Can’t I just stay home and encounter Jesus? Of course you can, but there is something extraordinary about traveling to a foreign place, open to the movement of the Holy Spirit and expecting an encounter with Christ. A pilgrimage is not simply a touring vacation in which we see some historical sites. A pilgrimage is a powerful retreat. On retreat, we contemplate the face of Christ, encounter Christ, confront what needs conversion, give God permission to do what He needs to do, and return with a new zeal for the Lord and His mission. In Sacred Scripture, we see how the crowds went out to listen to Jesus in the wilderness. They took a pilgrimage away from their homes and their villages, to go meet Jesus. It was in those moments that Jesus healed the sick, delivered people from the power of the enemy, and multiplied loaves and fishes (see John 6:1-14). Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Why attend Renewal Ministries’ Fortieth Anniversary Pilgrimage following the footsteps of St. Paul? St. Paul was well-traveled and preached the Gospel with great zeal. We all know that there is a need for renewal in the Holy Spirit for the mission of the Church. Traveling in “some” of the footsteps of St. Paul, we can see and experience the terrain traversed by one of the Church’s greatest evangelists. We will hear profound biblical and theological teachings by Dr. Peter Williamson. The letters of Paul will come alive in your heart. You will never read them the same way again. We will be encouraged by the words of the Renewal Ministries’ team. We will pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the mission of the Church. The island of Patmos, which is part of the extension portion of the pilgrimage, is the island where the apostle John was inspired to write the Book of Revelation. Come hear the invitation of Jesus, “the Spirit and the Bride say come” (Rv 22:17). Consider coming on the pilgrimage and discover a new depth to the richness of our faith.
Fr. Graham Keep, STL, serves in the diocese of London, Ontario, and is currently pastor of a family of five churches. He has served the Renewal Ministries’ staff through monthly visits for twenty-five years and has participated in missions to Slovakia, Ukraine, Ghana, Tanzania, Hungry, Czech Republic, Romania, and more.