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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
Chicago virtual communications consultant designs fundraising campaign to benefit Magdala Project in the Holy Land

Corinne at Magdala Project
Corinne Miller on site at the Magdala Project

Chicago, Illinois -- A couple from Chicago discovered more than they expected on a spring 2012 vacation to the Holy Land.  While visiting the city of Migdal near the Sea of Galilee in Israel, God came calling.

A call to help

Corinne Miller and her husband George were visiting the Holy Land in April of this year.  She said they “happened onto the Magdala Project,” and during their visit, the place “touched her heart.”

“We were vacationing in Israel and as we were driving down Route 90,” she said. “My husband saw the sign ‘Mary Magdalene’s Hometown,’ so we stopped to check it out.”

Corinne said the emotional reaction she experienced was due to a combination of factors -- experiencing the place where Mary Magdalene most likely lived, a place where Jesus most likely taught in the synagogue, a place that welcomes those of all faiths to dialogue, and the archeological significance of the site.  She was deeply affected.

“On the airplane ride back to Chicago, I had a dream that I should help in some way.  Once home, I googled to locate the email of the head of the Center, and found Fr Juan Solana’s email and contacted him.” (Fr. Juan Solana LC is Director of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.)

Where there is a will, there is a way

In the last five months, Corinne has assisted with Magdala communication projects, organized her own fundraising campaign using the new Magdala Center campaign tool, held a dinner event in her home, and returned to the Magdala site with a friend to volunteer in
Magdala Site from above
Aerial view of the Magdala site
the archeological excavation. 

Considering all she has accomplished since April, Corinne mused, “I am still not sure how I have found time to do all of this along with my daily life responsibilities!”

Corinne says she appreciates that way the organizers of the Magdala Center present the project on their website.

“The ambitions of the Magdala Project strive to be realistic,” she said, quoting the site.  “It states they ‘have a deep respect of the positions of every visitor and participant regardless of beliefs.’”

The site states that those who come to Magdala come “to celebrate and dialogue together, shedding the inherited prejudices and cliché understandings, we want to discover and become ever more familiar with each other, interested and committed to help each other and, together, contribute to the ‘tikum olam,’ the improvement of life on this planet for all humanity.”

These words were the inspiration for what Corinne calls her own fundraising project -- “Digging for Peace.”

Extending the Magdala reach

Being a virtual communication trainer and consultant in her business Innovating Results, Corinne saw a way to utilize WebEx, a virtual platform tool that allows people to present, train, communicate, and meet via the Internet, to bring the Holy Land to their living rooms, so to speak.

“The technology helps presenters bring a more personalized message to many more people around the world than might be feasible through traditional travel means,” said Corinne. “It is a great way to connect, when being in-person is cost or time prohibitive.”

Working with Fr Eamon Kelly LC, Vice
Fr. Eamon on WebEx technology
Fr. Eamon on WebEx technology
Chargé of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, they have already used WebEx in two ways.

The first was on Sept 15, 2012, during Corinne’s Magdala fund raising dinner. “At my home, we had 40 people watching Fr Eamon, who was in another location in the US,” she said. “Fr Eamon briefed the group about the Magdala project, and it worked wonderfully!”

Corinne explained that the guests were organized into three locations in her home where laptops were connected to television screens.  Each computer displayed Fr Eamon, his Magdala Center PowerPoint slides, his video, and a video of all the guests’ so they could see each other. 

“Fr Kelly was also able to ‘draw’ on the screen as he progressed through his slides, emphasizing various points,” she said. “His 45-minute virtual presentation was interactive, informational, and highly inspiring to my guests.  It was far more impactful than if I had tried to paraphrase or present the material myself.”

Efforts prior to and including the dinner event raised over $5000 for the Magdala Center so far. “While this is a small amount in relation to what is needed, imagine if this could be duplicated by others time and time again – it could add up very
Magdala Donation Site
Magdala Donation Website

The second use of WebEx took place October 3, 2012, when Corinne, her friend and business associate Maryann, and Fr Kelly conducted a 15-minute session from the Magdala Center in Israel with several people from the Chicagoland area.

“This was a great opportunity to bring the Holy Land experience to  people in Chicago and add a personal touch through Maryann’s and my experience there,” said Corinne. “By connecting to the Internet and using the webcam on Fr Kelly’s laptop, we were able to walk the audience around the site. It created great excitement for those in Chicago to feel as if they were there with us.”

Get Involved

Corinne encourages people who feel called to help the Magdala Project to get involved.

“People can find lots of information about the Magdala Center and archeological discoveries at and online donation and fundraising opportunities at Spread the work to your friends with one click! Use Facebook, Twitter, etc.

“The Magdala Center needs many more volunteers to come and dig up this First Century town discovered there.  I can only recommend it!  My friend and I were so happy to have come along to dig! It was one of the best experiences of their lives.

“Come as a pilgrim, bring your family and friends, and of course prayer is key support.  What happens here goes far beyond what is possible with mere human resources!”

Fr. Eamon also encourages people to come visit the site and the Holy Land in general.  People just might be surprised by what they experience.  To read his testimony “Jerusalem at Peace,” click here.



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