Holy Land Trip Provides “Faith Moment” for Principal

Holy Cross Principal Chris Nelson was one of five administrators and a teacher from Omaha Catholic schools who traveled to the Holy Land for 10 days in July.

The Nebraska contingency was part of a larger group of teachers and administrators from Kansas City and Cincinnati who all participated in the School of Faith, a nationwide program that was launched in the Archdiocese of Omaha in 2013. All archdiocesan schools are participating in the monthly, half-day training sessions. Facilitated by qualified instructors, teachers, staff and administrators come together to explore and learn about the Catholic faith, discuss real-world challenges and focus on personal faith formation. The trip was sponsored by the School of Faith, which is headquartered in Kansas City.

The group spent six days in Jerusalem and four days in Galilee to visit the places that Jesus lived and died in order to help them more deeply understand the roots of Catholic faith.

Nelson said one of the highlights of the trip was celebrating Mass at Calvary. “It was a profound faith moment,” she said. “When we go to Mass, we remember the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord. To be able to actually celebrate Mass in the very place where Jesus was crucified and died was such an honor and was so moving.” Participants were able to kneel in reverence and kiss the ground where Jesus’ cross was. Nelson said it was incredibly powerful. “If they would have told us it was time to go home, I would have felt completely full!”


Nelson, standing next to the cross at the Papacy of Peter

The Sea of Galilee was also an important part of the trip for Nelson. “So much of Jesus’ public ministry happened in this small stretch of land,” she said. The group spent time at the Papacy of Peter, the area where it is believed that Jesus and Peter reconciled after the resurrection. Nelson explained that even though Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus forgave him. The group received the sacrament of reconciliation there. “We have the same gift (of reconciliation) available to us whenever we want it,” said Nelson. “The grace and healing of reconciliation on the shores of Galilee was beyond words.”

Nelson is speaking to other administrators as well as school and parish groups about her experience and what it has meant to her. She said that it’s important to her to share this experience with others. On the last night of her trip, when she thanked the organizer for the opportunity to go to the Holy Land, he told her that it wasn’t a gift but rather an investment. The investment is “to engage in intentional discipleship, bringing others to Christ through this experience,” she said. “This is what is being asked of me in return for the experience, and as often as I can share it, I will.”