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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Walking on Water
Notre Dame of Galilee Project Approved by Local Bishop

El P. Juan Solana, L.C., muestra el lugar donde se construirá Notre Dame de Galilea.
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 happen.

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 life.

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, and prayer.

From Dream to Decree

Since then, 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.”

The 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 it.

Given in Jerusalem, on the 7 October 2007.

A Multifaceted Project

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 hotel
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
The multi-media center will be dedicated to evangelizing the new generations by
El equipo coordinador del proyecto, acompañados por los PP. Luis Garza Medina, vicario general de los Legionarios de Cristo y del Regnum Christi, Juan Solana y Francisco Armengol, L.L.C.C.
The team behind the dream.
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.

Basilica of 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.

To Find Information and Offer Support

To find out more about the project and to offer support, visit the Notre Dame of Jerusalem web page and go to “Galilee Project” or visit the Notre Dame of Galilee web page at

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 or by phone at +972 2 6279111.



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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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