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Building Bridges through History:
The Galilee Gala raises nearly $220,000 to support the Magdala Project in the Holy Land

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Guests at the Magdala Gala look at a reproduction of the Magdala Stone.

Denver, Colorado, June 22, 2011 -- Bridge-building is not usually a part of the science of archeology, but on June 8, 2011, in the city of Denver, Colorado, it certainly was.

An archeological dig in the Holy Land was the focus of an event that brought members of different religions together in support of “bridge-building” between Christians, Jews and other faiths.  This event was The Galilee Gala held at the Denver Museum of Natural Science.  The purpose of the event was to support the Magdala Project and a significant discovery of an ancient synagogue there.
The first century synagogue was found during construction of the Magdala Center, located on the site of the ancient city of Magdala.  Considered one of the oldest ever discovered in northern Israel, the synagogue contained a large limestone rock with carvings of Jewish symbols including a seven branched menorah, thought to be the oldest
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Rabbi Richard Rheins, poses with Dr. James Ryan, winner of the Bridge Builders Award.
sculpted depiction of the image on stone. 

The Magdala Project will include preserving and exhibiting the ruins of the synagogue as well as construction of a hotel for pilgrims to the Holy Land.  The hotel will feature a multimedia center on the life of Jesus and the history of the land, and is also intended to promote the vocation and dignity of women, inspired by the figure of Mary Magdalene. Because of its inter-religious significance, the Magdala Center and synagogue are expected to draw countless pilgrims after its planned opening in December, 2012.

More than 270 people representing various religious denominations attended The Galilee Gala, which reportedly raised about $220,000 for the project. 

During the event, the first ever “Bridge Builders Award” was presented to Dr. Jim Ryan, Executive Director of the Colorado Council of Churches. 

The award itself features an icon of two chalices and bread, images found on the
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The Very Reverend Father Peter Eaton, Dean of Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver poses with His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver.
Magdala stone in the ancient synagogue. A “replica” of the unique stone was transported to Denver and was on display during the Gala.

“People were fascinated by the Magdala Stone replica which arrived literally at the last moment,” said Fr. Eamon Kelly, LC, assistant director for the Magdala Center. “It was delivered from Jerusalem to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science the very morning of the Gala.

“The Bridge Builder’s award was established to honor people who bring together those of diverse backgrounds in a spirit of union.” said Fr. Eamon. “The icon is made up of age-old worship symbols of sharing and celebration between people. These symbols are laden with spiritual significance.”

“Up to now, the norm has been for each faith community to provide for their own spaces,” said Fr. Eamon. “The Magdala Center will open its doors to everyone. Let’s build it together!”

Some of the dignitaries in attendance from
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A group of dignitaries at the Magdala Gala.
Denver in the photo include (from left to right): Fr. Eamon Kelly, LC; Rev. Peter Eaton, Dean of Saint John’s Cathedral (Episcopalian); Dr. Jim Dixon, Senior Pastor of Cherry Hills Community Church; Archbishop Charles Chaput; George Morrison, Senior Pastor of Faith Bible Chapel; Rabbi Richard Rheins, President of the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council; Dr. James Ryan, Executive Director of the Colorado Council of Churches; Dr. Roger Teel, Senior Minister, Mile Hi Church; Metropolitan Isaiah, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver; Dr. Mary Hulst, Immediate Past President of American Baptist Churches, USA; and Dr. Gordon Kieft, President of the Colorado Council of Churches.

To find out more about Magdala Center, go to or



Related links web site
New Gate Tours
Institute for the Psychological Sciences
Magdala Center
Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College

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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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