I cannot start this letter for the New Year, 2017, without looking back and thanking God and each and every one of you for 2016, a year in which we had very important accomplishments.
Thank you for the generosity of so many friends that have participated as volunteers in the project. Thanks to them the day to day of Magdala is full of life, joy, service and passion. The number of volunteers is important but more important than that are the experiences that are being lived on site, the example given and the services provided. Let’s also remember that Mary Magdalene and the other women who “followed and served Jesus” were the first volunteers of the Gospel; because of this, our dear volunteers personify this page of the Gospel bringing it to life and to the present days for our visitors and pilgrims.
Thank you to those that from their positions of professional responsibility have helped us continue to carry out the Magdala project: to the members of PROYECO Spain, that help us with the management and organization of the project, and so many other numerous people and businesses that every day offer their professional services so that Magdala can become a reality. Special thanks to the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi: Celine, Jennifer, Christiana and Lety who host the pilgrims and coordinate everything related to the Visitors Center, the Liturgy and the Magdala Institute for the Dignity of Women. In 2016 the Institute hosted its second annual symposium and this year it will host its third on March 5th, 2017. Due thanks are also very necesarry to the Legionary Priests on site, Fr. Timothy Meehan, Fr. Fernando Tamayo, and Fr. Eamon Kelly who offer in Magdala their priestly ministry with so much enthusiasm and generosity.
Thank you to all our benefactors. Magdala maintains and advances in construction thanks to the generosity of our friends and benefactors. In 2016, we received approximately $ 4 million USD in donations. We thank everyone. We remind you that there are no small donations and the more people help us, the more joyful we feel that many people have the pride and joy of having put something of their generosity into this work of God that is doing so much good to so many souls.
Finally, thank you to our visitors. During 2016 we have registered more than 76 thousand visitors to Magdala. This number is impressive for being a recently opened holy place of the Gospel. But the most impressive are the experiences that many of them share with us about their spiritual encounter, the comfort they experienced visiting Magdala and the motivation to persevere in their journey towards God. There are no words to express this and to thank God for it. A very important part of this are the travel agencies and pilgrim guides who have so affectionately chosen to include Magdala on their pilgrimage itineraries to the Holy Land.
A thank you to those who I have not mentioned or to so many friends that we can not explicitly remark. Thank you all, from the heart.
We would like to take up on the challenge of opening the first part of the Pilgrims Guesthouse in 2017. This is our goal as it would offer us the possibility of beginning to have revenue to continue and finish the entire project. Together we can achieve it. Look at the photos of how the project is advancing. It is possible. Having a part of the guesthouse completed will offer us new opportunities to serve, to host activities for families, for priests, for young people; Interreligious and ecumenical meetings. Together we can make 2017 be a decisive year for Magdala, the year in which we can Bring the Vision to life! Help us do it!
With kind regards and my best wishes for this New Year,
Juan María Solana, L.C.