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The Galilee Gala:
Event set for June 8 in Denver to support development of the Magdala Project

Galilee stone
On the Magdala property, archaeologists uncovered the oldest sculpted depiction on stone of a seven-branched menorah.

Denver, Colo. -- On September 11, 2009, news outlets announced an archeological find that has been touted as a vehicle to support ecumenism and dialogue between different religions and cultures.  CNN reported the discovery of a first century synagogue considered to be the oldest in northern Israel.  This discovery was made on the construction site of the new Magdala Center.

Great Ecumenical, Interreligious Significance

A Zenit article quoted Father Juan María Solana, LC, director of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center and initiator of the Magdala project.

"I knew that Magdala was a holy place and I always had a hunch that it would be a special place for pilgrims of various religions,” he said.  “But the finding that we have made certainly exceeds our expectations….I dream of the day that this place will be opened to visiting pilgrims, and I hope it will serve to create bridges and bonds of true love and dialogue between believers of different religions that come together in the Holy Land."

The Legionaries of Christ, who oversee the Jerusalem center, and other various groups interested in the project, have organized a major fundraising event on June 8, 2011, at the Denver Museum of Natural Science, 2011 Colorado Boulevard, Denver, Colorado, to help continue the development of this historically and culturally significant project. The event will include the participation of: Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput; Metropolitan Isaiah, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver; President of the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council Rabbi Richard Rheins, and other
Denver museum
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where the gala event will be held.
religious and government leaders. 

“Denver’s religious leaders were most welcoming of this effort,” said Fr. Eamon Kelly, LC, Vice Charge of the Notre Dame Center. “Various groups and individuals from Denver came to visit Israel and the Holy Land in 2009 and 2010 and were very interested in supporting this project. The continual flow of Denver pilgrims in 2011 confirms this.

“So let your Denver friends know about this historic event on June 8, and even come with them!”

Great Historical Importance

Fr. Kelly, who has been traveling around the world to publicize the discovery of the synagogue and development of the Magdala project, said the synagogue site is likely a location where Jesus actually preached.  Because of its significance to Christians, as well as Jews and other religions, the site is expected to draw countless pilgrims after its planned opening in December, 2012.

The synagogue is located in the former town of Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Ceramic and coin evidence shows the synagogue had not been used since the year 67 AD, when historical records show Magdala was destroyed by the Romans.  A large limestone rock was discovered, including a carving of a seven branched menorah, thought to be the oldest sculpted depiction on stone of the ancient Jewish symbol.

According to Father Kelly, the Magdala Project brings alive a centuries-long dormant biblical place of immense historical importance.  “We are all stakeholders,” he said. “This project is significant for all of us.

“From the beginning we planned an ecumenical
aerial view synagogue
A view of the first-century synagogue with the Magdala Stone in the center.
chapel for all varieties of Christian Faith communities,” he explained. “The Magdala Project was born with a very open spirit. It was exactly in the same space planned for that chapel that we discovered the synagogue.  So there we can all discover our commonality, since we started out without all the heritage of division we now endure.  Even more, back then, we were not separated from the Jewish community.”  

Magdala Center Offers Many Benefits

The Magdala Center, aside from preserving and exhibiting the ruins of this holy place, will offer a hotel for pilgrims to the Holy Land, and a multimedia center that will display the message and life of Jesus and the history of the land.  The Magdala Project will also be a center that will promote the vocation and dignity of women, inspired by the figure of Mary Magdalene.

Father Kelly claims the Magdala Project is important to many sectors for economic reasons, as well as a stabilizing contribution toward peace.  He said the project will bring employment for local workers, increase tourism to Israel and offer more quality accommodations to pilgrims.

More Information and Resources

For more information or to register to attend the Galilee Gala, go to the following link or download the promotional flyer here. You can also download the official invitation and the reply card.

The Denver Post ( recently posted an article by Electa Draper about the event, entitled "Religious, political luminaries gather to raise money for Magdala Center in Israel" at this link.

To find out more about Magdala Center, go to or



Related links web site
Mission Network
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and the Center for Family Development
Changing Hearts
Cancun-Chetumal Prelature
Helping Hands Medical Missions

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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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