CDU Blog

CDU Students Explore and Learn in the Holy Land: The Fifth Gospel

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Jun 05, 2017 @ 05:00 PM

holy landresize.jpegDr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Christina Steele, Sue Ellen Young and Mario Lanza at the Jordan River.

The holy places in the land where the Savior walked speak so powerfully of the work of redemption that the land is rightly called “the fifth gospel.”  CDU offers a course with Holy Land travel lead by CDU Professor and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio (Dr. Italy).  Faith and cultural lessons are shared on location for ten days in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, Carmel, Cana, and Galilee. While in Isreal, students gain insight into the Bible that can only be captured by being in the land and learn about the Fathers of the Church, including Origen, Eusebius, Justin, Jerome, and Cyril of Jerusalem, who lived and wrote in the Holy Land.  Students also come face-to-face with the Crusades and Muslim-Christian relations as they learn about Church history and interreligious dialogue. CDU students who joined Dr. D’Ambrosio April 24- May 4 share some of their experiences and trip highlights.

listening to the speakers at the Church of the Paster Noster, or Our Fat....jpgChurch of Pastor Noster. Our Father prayer in hundreds of languages.

“This trip is a sacred pilgrimage, learning experience, and vacation all wrapped into one!  A spiritual journey leading to a spiritual breakthrough can also be fun and fascinating at the same time,”  explains Dr. D’Ambrosio.  CDU student Sue Ellen Young agrees, “It was an amazing adventure that continues to bear good fruit!”  The trip to the Holy Land includes experiences like sailing on the Sea of Galilee, climbing Mt. Tabor and walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

boat on sea of Galilee.jpgBoat ride to the Sea of Galilee.

“The trip was so much more than I imagined,” said CDU student Christina Steele.  “Dr. D’Ambrosio did an amazing job intertwining the Scriptural stories and insights with the local guide, Bader, who was able to bring the historical and cultural background to life.”

“I learned so much about biblical events and parables, it really has made reading the New Testament come to life!” exclaimed Christina, who made the trip into a family adventure with her mother, Joyce Bishop.  “It was great to experience the Holy Land together. Even my mom is now spiritually motivated to read the Bible more often and able to see ways she can improve her life as a disciple as well.”

2017-05-03 12.46.32-3.jpgChristina and her mother, Joyce Bishop, on Mt. Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean.

Christina shared her biggest surprise, “It was so much more spiritual than I expected!”  She continued, “Dr. D’Ambrosio really brings home the point that Jesus is still alive today in the people we encounter and people in need.  We witnessed this visiting an orphanage in Bethlehem and a store owned by Palestinian Christians. We traced His path, carried our crosses, and offered them to Jesus at the tomb.  We learned, asked a lot of questions and got answers on the spot, we sang, went to Mass, prayed for each other and above all, reflected on our lives.  It was the experience of a lifetime.”

Expanding on her trip experiences, Christina explains that each site offered the opportunity to renew one’s Sacraments; Baptism and Confirmation at the Jordan River, Marriage in Cana, Anointing of the Sick at the site of the Transfiguration, and Confession.  We arrived as strangers with 39 people and felt we were brothers and sisters with everyone on the trip.  “It was truly a mountaintop experience – a way to reignite the holy spirit in my life and assess my role as a disciple,” she adds.

renewing wedding vows.jpgRenewing vows

The next Holy Land adventure course to Israel and Palestine begins on December 27, 2017, and concludes on January 6, 2018, but it really doesn’t end.  Your return will mark a new beginning — you will never read the Bible or participate in the Eucharist in the same way ever again.


Students may take the trip to the Holy Land as part of a course at CDU. Prior to and subsequent to the trip, there will be some fascinating reading and online discussion, which will be the basis for a term paper to be submitted at the end of the 8-week class.

Group Picture from Mt. of Olives.jpgGroup at Mount of Olives

Learn more about future CDU course trips to the Holy Land HERE.

Learn more about future CDU course trips to Italy HERE.

Future Holy Land Pilgrimages by Dr. Italy:

Dates & info on Dec 2017/Jan 2016 HERE.

Dates & info on Spring 2018 Pilgrimage HERE.

DSC_0009.jpgDr. D’Ambrosio on the Mt. of the Beatitudes answering questions.