Dear Friends of Magdala,
Magdala is growing day by day becoming one big great family. As we are preparing ourselves for the opening of the guesthouse, I wanted to share with you our latest news from July. I hope these bring a smile to your face!
From the 13 – 21 of July we hosted the first “Inner Healing” retreat in Magdala. It was a beautiful period full of blessings in which we were able to experiment the great love of God for us as He sent his Son to save us, heal us and protect us. The retreat was composed of a pilgrimage across the Holy Land in the mornings followed by retreat sessions in the afternoon. Priests, consecrated women of Regnum Christi and a faithful group of lay persons participated in the retreat. If I had to summarize this experience with a few words it would be that it is amazing to be able to experience the love of God and appreciate the power which prayer, in particular for intercessions, has on each one of us.
On another hand, and as most of you are aware, Magdala has had since 2010 a volunteer program in place which has been composed of two phases. The first from 2010-2014 focused more in the archeological works of the site, and the second from 2015 to present day being focused on welcoming pilgrims to the site.
I´ve had the opportunity in the past to share with you how after an initial phase of having volunteers help us on site for practical reasons, our idea developed into something bigger. During a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, God granted me the vision to see how Mary Magdalene and the other women of the Gospel who had been cured by Jesus or had followed him had been the first volunteers of our Lord. With this in mind I knew that Magdala would always have to have volunteers who would embody this spirit and maintain this service to our Lord on site.
Our volunteer program continues to grow in popularity and expand. We continually have 12-20 volunteers on-site, depending on the season. Our volunteers come from all walks of life, faith backgrounds and parts of the world, and they are a big part of what makes Magdala a unique experience. Each one helps bring Magdala to life for all visitors and upon conclusion of their participation they become ambassadors for Magdala back home.
The experience and camaraderie between volunteers is so strong that many form friendships for life. With this I’m happy to say that this past week we have hosted our first volunteer reunion after 10 years of the program. Over 40 volunteers from all ages, periods and countries came back to connect as a family and share together the experiences they lived in Magdala. It has been wonderful to see how this common experience unites us and to see this great big family have God in its center and Mary Magdalene as a friend and companion.
Lastly, this past July 22 we joined together to celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene. Magdala turned on its festive mode as we commemorated the feast of our patron, friend, inspiration and the great evangelizer who shared the news of the Resurrection with the apostles. This year, and alongside former and current volunteers, archaeologists, priests, consecrated, and the operational team of Magdala, we got together to celebrate and most importantly give thanks to the many blessings received so far in the life of this project.
Joined by the great family that is Magdala, I wish you a serene summer, full of rest alongside your family and friends, and ask that you continue to keep us and our ministry in the Holy Land in your prayers.
Greetings and blessings.
Fr. Juan María Solana, L.C.