Dear Friends of Magdala:
By the time you receive this newsletter we will have celebrated the first anniversary of the inauguration of the Archaeological Park Of Magdala and the consecration of Duc In Altum. That is to say, it has been a full year since we completed the first phase of development and opened Magdala to the public.
It has been a very busy year and not without its challenges. We have been busy promoting Magdala to make it an absolute stop in all pilgrim itineraries of the Holy Land. Even after being open for a year, there are still many people in the tourism industry that are not aware of Magdala.
Nonetheless, and thanks to God, we have reached an average of 700 daily visitors in the last couple of weeks. Over 40,500 pilgrims have visited Magdala this year. Moreover, we have already registered over 1,000 masses celebrated at Duc In Altum.
It has also been a difficult year in the Holy Land. In the months of July and August, just after Magdala was inaugurated, conflict began once more between Gaza and Israel. As a result, the number of pilgrimages coming to the Holy Land was greatly reduced for the remainder of 2014. We thank God that in these past months of 2015 everything has returned to normal.
I am aware that in the past couple of months I have not kept you up to date as regularly as I would like. Please allow me to explain. These have not been months of rest, but of maturity, innovation, and significant planning for the future.
Hence, it is with great enthusiasm and joy that I inform you that we will once again renew construction of the Magdala Guesthouse for pilgrims and visitors starting on the 22nd of July, coinciding with the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. I will share more information about the Guesthouse soon. We cannot emphasize the importance of this objective enough, as it is crucial to us as we launch Magdala’s own activities and programs.
On March 9th, on occasion of International Women´s day, Magdala hosted its first activity (seminar/conference) on the theme of women. Women from various backgrounds and places in the Holy Land attended as invited speakers presented on diverse topics in relation to the mission and protection of women. This is just the beginning of what God has in store.
During this past year, we have also received a great number of Jewish and Arab visitors, as well as many pilgrims of various Christian faiths. This underlines an essential aspect of Magdala — its ecumenical and inter-religious dimension.
We continue the development of Magdala with a new brand identity, one that is inclusive and considerate of diverse religious and spiritual traditions … one that hopes to build bridges, strengthen ties, and celebrate our common faith, history, and culture.
Magdala is a very big project and it requires the enthusiasm and generosity of all. Nonetheless, I believe the hardest part has been accomplished. Magdala is now a Holy Place; it is a reality. Let us press on and complete it.
More than 1,100 volunteers have passed through Magdala. Without this army of workers, we could not have accomplished all that has been done. We continue to welcome young people from around the world who come to participate in the work at Magdala as volunteers.
In order to fulfill what the Lord has begun at Magdala, I propose that we all need to play a significant role. We need every volunteer, participant, donor and visitor to spread the word about Magdala to all of their relatives and friends.
Dear friends, we invite you to be ambassadors of Magdala and the Holy Land. We invite you to help spread the word. We invite you to personally support this work with your prayers and generosity.
From here on, we will send you a monthly newsletter, to update you on the development of the project. We thank you for your patience and we ask for your prayers and assistance so that we can continue to move ahead to complete this work.
Sending you a warm greeting from Magdala, I am fraternally yours,
Fr. Juan María Solana, L.C.