|Corinne Miller on site at the Magdala Project|
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
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
“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
the archeological excavation.
|Aerial view of the Magdala site|
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.’”
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
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
Chargé of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center,
they have already used WebEx in two ways.
|Fr. Eamon on WebEx technology|
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 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.
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.”
people who feel called to help the Magdala Project to
“People can find lots of information about the Magdala
Center and archeological discoveries at www.magdalacenter.com and online donation
and fundraising opportunities at www.newgatetopeacefoundation.org. Spread the work to
your friends with one click! Use Facebook, Twitter, etc.
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.