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Crafting the Perfect Pilgrimage
INTERNATIONAL | APOSTOLATE | NEWS
New Gate Tours travel agency connects pilgrims with places rich in spirituality and culture.

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March 28, 2011. For the relatively new travel agency called New Gate Tours, organizing pilgrimages is not just a matter of connecting people to places and plugging them in with a tour guide: it is a form of evangelization, a chance to help people meet Christ in a deeper way on their own road to Damascus— or Jerusalem or Rome or Antioch or Krakow, for that matter.

A growing service

New Gate Tours began several years ago as the New Gate to Peace Foundation, which the Legionaries of Christ created in 2004 after the Holy Father entrusted them with the management of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center. The New Gate to Peace Foundation’s main aim was to bring pilgrims to the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, and also to offer support to the Palestinian Christians living in Israel.

As the Foundation began bringing a steady stream of pilgrims from Mexico, the United States, and Spain, the travel agency New Gate Tours was created in order to offer a complete pilgrimage package for a trip to the Holy Land. In addition to lodging at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, it offered itineraries for various lengths of stays, complete with lodging in Galilee for several nights, tour guides, bus transportation, meals, admission fees, and a priest to celebrate the sacraments on site.

As it grew, New Gate Tours also expanded its list of destinations from Israel to Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Greece, Portugal, France, Jordan, and Poland. During the Year of St. Paul,
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The Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
for example, the agency offered trips to Turkey and Greece to retrace St. Paul’s steps on his various journeys. For the upcoming beatification of John Paul II, New Gate Tours is also presenting different pilgrimage packages spanning Rome, Poland, and—if desired—the Holy Land.

So far, over 10,000 people have gone on pilgrimages with the agency, mainly from Mexico, but also from Chile, Brazil, Spain, and the United States. As word of mouth travels, Americans are seeking out the travel agency in greater numbers. At the same time, New Gate Tours is beginning a more concerted promotion effort in the States, with local promoters in San Antonio, Atlanta, San Diego, and St. Louis.

Facilitating an experience of God

“New Gate Tours offers a new way of strengthening faith,” said Carlos Lankenau, who is one of the agency’s managers. “A pilgrimage with New Gate Tours is the perfect mixture of faith, art, and culture, and it’s an opportunity to draw closer to God.”

He observed that people draw closer to the sacraments on the pilgrimages, which gives them a much stronger experience of God.

Regarding the Holy Land pilgrimage, he noted that seeing and experiencing the “fifth gospel” of Jesus´ land “really transforms the hearts of many of our pilgrims. Now we really can say that ‘seeing is believing,’” he said.

Past pilgrims have also noted that this is not just a cultural trip or an excursion. It is a journey in prayer, a spiritual experience.

“What made the trip an interior spiritual journey was
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The upcoming pilgrimage for John Paul II's beatification will include time in Krakow, Poland.
that every step, every meditation, every scene contributed an important piece,” said one pilgrim. “At the end of my trip, I have the certainty that my soul walked more miles than my suitcase. I have drawn closer to God and the Church in a way I ever thought possible.”

At the same time, the services provided by New Gate Tours did not go unnoticed.

“I want to thank you and congratulate you and the company,” wrote another pilgrim, a priest. “You were at our service and gave us even more than what was agreed upon. Everything you gave us was so great—the hotels, the meals, the trips, the guides (Salim was a master)…”

“We felt treated like kings,” wrote another pilgrim. “Thank you.”

***

New Gate Tours is currently expanding its promotion efforts in the States. If you are interested in being trained to be a local promotion coordinator, please contact Carlos Lankenau at infousa@newgatetours.com.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2011-03-28


 
 

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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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