Tag: Greece

The Significance of Pilgrimage

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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.

Embrace ‘St. Paul’s Spirit’ on Renewal Ministries’ Pilgrimage

Dr. Peter Williamson is joining Renewal Ministries on its Footsteps of St. Paul pilgrimage in May 2020. He teaches the “Letters of St. Paul” at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit, and he will share expert insight into the places we visit and their deep significance for the spread of the Gospel. He is an expert in St. Paul, a dynamic disciple of Jesus, and a great preacher! You can get more details about the pilgrimage here. Ralph Martin, Peter and Debbie Herbeck, and a bishop or priest (who will be named soon) also will be part of the pilgrimage.

By Dr. Peter Williamson

Five reasons why following the footsteps of St. Paul is worthwhile:

1. Except for Jesus, there is no person that the New Testament tells us as much about as St. Paul.

2. On numerous occasions, the Bible tells readers to imitate St. Paul! (See 1 Cor 4:16, 11:1; Phil 3:17; 1 Thess 2:7-12). Paul is especially a model for pastoral leaders.

3. Paul’s mission provides the biblical paradigm for evangelization then and now.

4. The normative biblical vision of what the Church is meant to be is revealed in Acts and the letters of Paul.

5. Visiting these places, and praying and reflecting on them with good brothers and sisters, is a great way for us to assimilate these truths and St. Paul’s spirit!

A brief summary of Paul’s missionary activity in Greece:

Paul’s first missionary journey took place entirely in what is the eastern half of modern-day Turkey. But on his second journey, after he first attempted to go south to Asia Minor (probably Ephesus) and then tried to go north to Bithynia—both times being stopped by the Holy Spirit!—he journeyed west to the coastal town of Troas (Acts 16:6-10). There he had a dream in which a man from Macedonia (northern Greece) said, “Come and help us.” Paul and his companions, Silas, Luke, and Timothy, decided that God was guiding them to go evangelize in Macedonia. So they sailed across the Aegean Sea to Neapolis, and the first Christian mission to Europe began!  During that mission, Paul evangelized Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea in Macedonia, and then Athens and Corinth in the south of Greece (Achaia), where Paul remained for one-and-a-half years. It was from Corinth that Paul wrote his letters to the Thessalonians and perhaps also to the Galatians. Our pilgrimage will visit all those important stops on Paul’s second missionary journey. (You can read all this in Act 16:6 to 18:18.)

On his third mission trip, the Holy Spirit finally allowed Paul to reside in Ephesus in Asia Minor, where he preached the Gospel for nearly three years. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians and Romans from Ephesus. Then Paul revisited the cities he had evangelized in Greece, starting again in the north (Macedonia, where he wrote 2 Corinthians), returned to Corinth, and then turned back to Macedonia, before heading to Jerusalem (Acts 20:1-6).

I hope you are able to join us on this pilgrimage! You can register and find more details here. If you have questions, you also can contact Kathleen Kittle, at 734-662-1730, ext. 132.


Dr. Peter S. Williamson occupies the Adam Cardinal Maida Chair in Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. He received his M.A. in Theology from Sacred Heart in 1995 and his S.T.D. in Biblical Theology from the Gregorian University in 2001. Dr. Williamson, a convert to the Catholic Church in 1972, is a married layman who has been involved for over 40 years in evangelization and pastoral ministry in the United States and abroad. He is the author of Revelation (2015) and Ephesians (2009) in the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture and co-editor of the series along with Dr. Mary Healy and Kevin Perrotta. He is also author of Catholic Principles for Interpreting Scripture: A Study of the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” (Loyola Press, 2002) and co-editor with Ralph Martin of John Paul II and the New Evangelization (revised edition, St. Anthony Messenger, 2006).