|An eagle’s eye view of where the Notre Dame of Galilee Center in Magdala will be.|
October 24, 2007. Jerusalem. Buying a sizeable piece of land
on the shores of Lake Galilee is nearly impossible in
Israel, let alone undertaking an ambitious building project for a
modern and fully equipped Regnum Christi retreat center on it.
Walking on water has never been easy. Then again, in
a place like Galilee, such miracles have been known to
Pope John Paul II entrusted the Notre Dame of Jerusalem
Center to the Legionaries of Christ on November 26, 2004.
Only six months later, on April 1, 2005, the “Notre Dame of Galilee Project” was conceived—on the very eve,
as it happened, of the Pontiff’s passing over into eternal
The Notre Dame of Galilee project was envisioned as a
retreat center on the shores of Lake Galilee (also known
as the Sea of Tiberias) that would respond to several
concrete needs: the urgent need to bring more pilgrims to
the Holy Land to support Israel’s struggling Christian population, and
the need for a lodging place right on Lake Galilee
that would truly offer pilgrims an atmosphere of peace, recollection,
From Dream to Decree
the project has grown closer from a dream into a
reality. Thanks to the generosity of many contributors, 10.6 acres
of land were purchased in August of 2006 in Magdala,
the native town of Mary Magdalene. The architectural plans have
been drawn up in detail, and as of October 7,
2007, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, has written
a decree giving his approval and blessing to the project.
In the letter below, he states, “Reverend Father (Alvaro):
In response to your letter dated June 20, 2007, I
am happy to send you the decree of erection of
the new pilgrimage Center, “NOTRE DAME OF GALILEE”, on the
site of Magdala, near the Lake of Tiberias. With my
best regards and blessing, Michel Sabbah, Patriarch.”
text of the actual decree (pictured below) states:
Upon the request
of Rev. Fr Alvaro Corcuera Martinez del Rio, L.C., Superior
General of the “CONGREGATIO LEGIONARIORUM CHRISTI”, founded in Mexico City
on Jan 3rd, 1941, erected canonically on June 13th 1948,
recognized by the Holy See with the Decretum Laudis on
Feb 6th 1965, and established in Jerusalem in Notre Dame
Center in 2005, by mandate of the Holy See to
run the Jerusalem Notre-Dame Center, we hereby welcome the above
mentioned Congregation in our diocese of the Latin Patriarchate of
Jerusalem, and by this decree we authorize it, according to
the Canon Law (Canons 609.1, 611 and 678) to open
the Pilgrimage Center “NOTRE DAME OF GALILEE” in our diocese,
on the site of Magdala, near the Lake of Tiberias.
“We hope that the new Center will promote the
real meaning of pilgrimage, giving the needed spiritual guidance to
pilgrims from abroad, from our diocese, and from all the
dioceses of the Holy Land.
“With our blessing to the
new center “NOTRE DAME OF GALILEE”, to those who will
minister in it and to all who will come to
Given in Jerusalem, on the 7 October 2007.
The retreat center hotel is only the beginning
of the ambitious plans. The Notre Dame of Galilee Center
will also include a multi-media center, a basilica dedicated to
St. Mary Magdalene, an International Center on the Dignity of
women, and an excavation of the ruins of the ancient
town of Magdala from the times of Christ.
The architectural plan, which envisions a hotel with
space for 350 pilgrims, has been finished and presented for
approval. Father Juan Solana believes that the construction process will
begin in the spring of 2008, directly after the construction
licenses are granted.
The multi-media center
center will be dedicated to evangelizing the new generations by
presenting the life of Jesus in images, sound, and film.
This center is intended to enrich the pilgrims’ spiritual experience
and complement the explanations given by their tour guides. According
to Father Juan Solana, LC, the Multimedia Center is now
being studied by the BRC Imagination Arts Company of Los
Angeles, CA, one of the best companies in this field.
The project envisions two parallel centers: one in Magdala, focused
on the public life of Jesus, and one in Jerusalem,
focused on his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, and on the
birth of the Church.
|The team behind the dream.|
St. Mary Magdalene
The basilica of St. Mary Magdalene will
be built over the traditional location of the saint’s house,
and will host liturgical celebrations related to Christ’s ministry in
Galilee, especially those related to Mary Magdalene and the other
women who followed Jesus.
International Center on the
Dignity of Women
The International Center on the Dignity
of Women, inspired by the historical presence of Mary Magdalene,
will offer a uniquely suitable place for further reflection on
woman’s place in the Church and the modern world.
Ruins of Magdala
The ruins of Magdala are
currently closed to pilgrims. However, the Legionaries in Jerusalem are
currently engaged in dialogue and cooperation with the Franciscan friars
who take care of them, and it should be possible
to open the ruins to visitors shortly.
Information and Offer Support
To find out more about the project
and to offer support, visit the Notre Dame of Jerusalem
web page www.notredamecenter.org and go to “Galilee Project” or
visit the Notre Dame of Galilee web page at www.notredamegalilea.org.
Those who wish to help will find an online
way of contributing through a bank account in various countries
(in some, the charitable aid is tax deductible). For more
information, contact Juan Pablo Lankenau at email@example.com or by
phone at +972 2 6279111.