Updated: Oct 9
In the early morning hours of October 7, tensions escalated in the areas around the Gaza Strip in southern Israel.
As of now, the conflict appears to be concentrated in the Gaza Strip and neighboring cities, with no reported impact on the safety of pilgrimage groups in other areas. Key pilgrimage destinations such as Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem remain unaffected. According to our sponsor organization Verso Ministries, Pilgrimage groups currently in the Holy Land are proceeding as expected, with more groups planned to arrive in the coming days.
NASPA will continue to monitor the situation and provide any updates as necessary. In the meantime, please join us in prayer as we stand in solidarity with those who live in the Holy Land.
Below are some accounts from pilgrims who are currently in the Holy Land:
Sharon Masterson | Memphis, TN
"Yesterday, Saturday (October 7, 2023) , was an interesting day. I learned of the attack by Hamas by way of news feed on my phone. Only a few of us were aware.
But, we left the Notre Dame Hotel early for the Wailing Wall. It was the Jewish Sabbath so there were many Jews there-men on one side and women on the other. Since it was the Sabbath we were not allowed photographs.
We headed to the Dead Sea, but road was closed due to conflict, so had to foresee that experience.
We visited Bethany and the tomb of Lazarus and home of Mary and Martha and celebrated Mass at the Chapel of Lazarus. During that time we heard what sounded the shooting down of a missile and then its fizzle after being shot down.
As we visited Lazarus’ actual tomb, I saw in the sky a missile shot down. A nearby vendor verified that it was just that and he said that was a strong one.
After cancellation of Dead Sea trip we stopped for lunch at a Greek Orthodox Church.
Returned back to hotel early as locations and roads were closed. There is a nice rooftop bar and restaurant at the hotel where we had a lovely farewell dinner. Prior to dinner, we enjoyed a couple of drinks while watching smoke rising in the sky. Not sure what it was, but fit the day.
Following dinner, Fr Dexter gave an impromptu, but delightful concert on the bar piano.
Today, so far, had our final breakfast at hotel early and then celebrated Sunday Mass in the hotel chapel, Our Lady, Queen of Peace. The Manager of the hotel, Legionnaires of Christ priest Fr. David was main celebrant, assisted by Fr Dexter and our tour guide Fr David Wathen, OFM.
We are headed to the north for our next hotel and three days visit to Capernum, Sea of Galilee, Mt of Beatitudes and more. On the way, we noticed some Israeli military service vehicles and soldiers.”
Please pray for the safety of all who have traveled to the Holy Land on their pilgrimage and for peace in Israel. Please pray for those whose loved ones were killed in the attack by Hamas and those who have been taken hostage that they will be released."
Mary Pat Van Epps | Memphis, TN
"We are in the hands of God and Our Lady. After Mass this morning, the decision was made to go on to the Sea of Galilee as planned. We are praying all will be better in the north.
Things are very quiet in Jerusalem this morning. I hope the news reports that! Thank you, everyone, for all your prayers, love and concern. It's one day at a time. Oh, Jesus, I surrender myself to You. Take care of everything. Today's readings: Have no anxiety! --- Oct. 8, 2023