Benedictine College
Holy Land Pilgrimage

December 28, 2023 - January 7, 2024

Our 9-day Holy Land Tour of Israel will transform the Bible into vivid reality as you are immersed in the land where the Incarnation took place. You will visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Galilee, and many other places so familiar from scripture. You will develop a more intimate understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as you smell the air, feel the sun on your skin, and touch the very rocks that He and the Disciples may have touched.

Participants will have a first-hand experience of the Holy Land's wonders and complexities. The Holy Land is an incredible mosaic where history, religion, art, archaeology, spirituality, geopolitics, natural wonders and multi-ethnic coexistence, meet and sometimes are at odds with each other.

Students pose for a group shot while studying abroad in the Holy Land

Program Cost:
Benedictine College Students: $2,690
Other participants: $2,890
Deposit due at registration: $750 deposit

Single room option available for an additional $630.

A United Airlines group flight leaving from Newark Liberty International Airport has been arranged for the cost of $1,287. Participants can choose to take advantage of the group flight or buy their own plane ticket and reach the hotel in Jerusalem on their own.
The group flight will leave from Newark on December 28 at 3:55 PM and return to Newark on January 7 at 4:45 PM. Flights from and to your final destination must be purchased separately.

Benedictine College students can choose to take the trip for credit.
The optional academic portion would fall under the course THEO 3910: The Holy Land (2 credits). This course entails a study of the Gospels in the context of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Places visited mark the traditional sites of key events in the life of Christ (e.g., His birth, death, resurrection, ascension), as well as places of significance for His earthly ministry (e.g., Nazareth, Cana, and Capernaum). This course will also allow the student to witness firsthand the state of current relations in the Holy Land among Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
Upon return to campus, a 1 credit special topics course would be offered in the Spring, entitled “Theology of Geography.” The two courses combined would amount to 3 credits in theology for the Spring semester.

Register here

Last day to register:  September 25, 2023

Questions? Contact us to learn more.

Group Leaders

Abbot James Albers

Abbot James R. Albers, O.S.B., is the ninth abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey, serving in this role since December 2012.  He hails originally from St. Joe (Ost), Kansas, west of Wichita, and grew up in Bendena, Kansas, attending St. Benedict’s Parish, which was founded by the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey.

Abbot James attended Benedictine College as a fourth-generation legacy student, graduating in the spring of 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and theology.  Following graduation he worked for PSI, Inc., as a communications editor in the company’s marketing office at its Lawrence, Kansas, corporate headquarters.

He professed vows at St. Benedict’s Abbey in December 1996 and began theology studies in the fall of 1997 at the Pontifical University of Sant’Anselmo, Rome, Italy.  He earned his Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from Sant’Anselmo and was ordained to the sacred priesthood in July 2000.

Upon completing his studies, Abbot James served at Benedictine College in the role of Director of Alumni Relations, and in 2002 was appointed as Prior of the Abbey.  He served in that role until his election as abbot, serving also as Vocations Director from 2005-2012.  Abbot James regularly serves in parishes throughout the Archdiocese on weekends, and shares in the responsibilities of ministering to the students at Benedictine College by helping with chaplain duties.

Dr. Mark Zia

Dr. Mark J. Zia is a Professor of Sacred Theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he has taught for nearly 15 years. He earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, dissertating on the doctrine of biblical inspiration. Dr. Zia regularly teaches classes in biblical theology, including courses on the Pentateuch, Synoptic Gospels, Gospel of John, and Biblical Hermeneutics. He is also actively involved in the academic formation of candidates for the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and beyond.

Before coming to Benedictine, he taught theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austrian campus and then at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Dr. Zia is a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and a perpetual member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He has published several articles and three books, and is currently working on a fourth. Of particular interest is his book on Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, The Enduring Faith and Timeless Truths of Fulton Sheen, given the current preparations in the USA for Sheen’s Beatification.

Costs and Itinerary

Program Fee: $2,890 per participant ($750 deposit + $2,140 balance)

Benedictine College Student Discount: $200 (Program Fee: $2,690, deposit: $750, balance $1,940)

Single Room Supplement: $630

Group Flight (optional): $1,287

Payment Information: When you register, you will be required to pay a $750 deposit toward the total cost of the program. At registration, you may also opt to pay either the remainder of the full cost of the program or half of the remainder of the full cost of the program.

  • The trip must be paid in full by October 31, 2023.

The price includes:

  • Travel Medical Insurance
  • Assistance at the airport upon arrival and departure (if you take the group flight)
  • Air-conditioned coach transportation
  • Accommodation in hotels
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the dinner of Dec. 29 to breakfast on January 7
  • Gratuities
  • Local guide
  • Whisper Audio guide system

The price does not include:

  • Airfare from/to the US
  • Drinks with included meals
  • Personal extras, and anything not specifically mentioned under “the price includes”

Physical Activity Rating: Slightly strenuous. May require extended walking over uneven ground as well as the ability to climb stairs and to stand for considerable periods of time.

There is a Department of State level 2 travel advisory (level 2 means “exercise increased caution”) regarding Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, that you can read here.

Despite the travel warning, pilgrimages and guided tours take place on a regular basis; there is no specific threat along the main tourist itineraries, unless a crisis erupts in the region—in that case the trip will be cancelled.

The Gaza strip and some locations in the West Bank are the most dangerous areas, but are excluded from itineraries. We will definitely not go to the Gaza strip; we will just briefly visit a few of the safest locations in the West Bank (Bethlehem, the Jordan valley, Jericho, Sebastia, and Jerusalem’s Old City).

We will have an ATS local staff with us during our site visits. One of the group leaders accompanying the group, Daniel Musso, lived in Israel for ten years and is familiar with the geography, as well as with the complexities of the cultural, social, and political aspects of the place. Participants are asked to stay with the group and consult the group leaders if they want to walk away from the group for any reason. We will have our own bus and will not use public transportation.

It is important to understand that the nature of the conflict is different than in other areas in the Middle East. The conflict is chiefly between Israel and Palestine; it is not - and is not perceived - as being between western countries and Arab countries. Moreover, international aid provided by western countries is the main source of support for the Palestinian Authority. Tourists coming from western countries are generally seen as beneficial for local economies. Both parties are interested in not alienating the support of the western countries.

Security concerns may vary according to different factors, i.e., in which part of the country you are, time of the day, etc. Referring to the group leaders and local guides is the best way to learn what to do and what not to do in a certain context.

The participants will be required to attend a pre-departure information meeting (offered in person and remotely) and will receive a detailed program handbook.

Thursday, Dec. 28DEPARTURE From the USA
Friday, Dec. 29ARRIVAL DAY - Arrival at Tel Aviv airport | Bus ride to Jerusalem| On the way to Jerusalem, stop at Emmaus; Mass | Check-in at the Hotel | Lunch | Israel Museum: The Model, Shrine of the Book | Dinner (included) | Overnight in Jerusalem
Saturday, Dec. 30MOUNT ZION - Upper Room | David’s Tomb | St. Peter in Gallicantu (Mass) | Lunch break in Jerusalem | The Dormition | Ein Karem: St. John the Baptist Church; Visitation Church | Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem
Sunday, Dec. 31THE MOUNT OF OLIVES - Ascension Chapel | Church of the Pater Noster | Dominus Flevit (Mass) | The Tomb of Mary Church | Lunch break in Jerusalem | The Basilica and garden of Gethsemane | Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem
Monday, Jan. 1THE NATIVITY: MARY MOTHER OF GOD - The Shepherds’ Field | Bethlehem:
The Nativity Basilica | St. Catherine's Church – Grottoes | Mass | Lunch break | Milk Grotto | Gift shop in Bethlehem | Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem
Tuesday, Jan. 2THE HOLY SEPULCHER - Church of St. Anne - The Pool of Bethesda | Flagellation Church | Way of the Cross | Lunch break in Jerusalem | Visit to the Holy Sepulcher | Mass at the Holy Sepulcher | Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem
Wednesday, Jan. 3"RETURN TO NAZARETH" - Masada | Qumran | Lunch break | Tomb of Lazarus and Mass at Bethany | Qasr el Yahud (Baptismal site on the River Jordan) | Nazareth | Dinner and overnight in Nazareth
Thursday, Jan. 4NAZARETH, THE HOMETOWN OF JESUS - Mary's Well | The Basilica of the Annunciation (Mass) | Archeology Museum | St. Joseph's Church | Lunch break in Nazareth | Cana of Galilee (with renewal of Marriage) | Mont Tabor | Naim | Mount Precipice | Dinner and overnight in Nazareth
Friday, Jan. 5THE SEA OF GALILEE - Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee | Capernaum (Mass) | Lunch break | Tabgha | Church of the Multiplication | Church of Primacy | Mount of Beatitudes | Caesarea Philippi (Banias) | Dinner and overnight in Nazareth
Saturday, Jan. 6LAST DAY - Caesarea Maritima | Lunch break | Haifa: Mt. Carmel | Vigil Mass in Haifa or Nazareth | Dinner | Dinner and overnight in Nazareth
Sunday, Jan. 7DEPARTURE  - Transfer to the airport | Group flight at 11:30 AM

This program is offered in collaboration with WorldBound Learning Projects and PJJ Tours Ltd.

WorldBound’s mission is to provide affordable, life-changing, and academically engaging international education solutions to institutions of higher education, serving students and administrators alike in their desire to learn on a global scale and to build relationships among people. Learn more at

Founded in 1998, PJJ Tours is recognized as one of the most professional and reputable tour operators in Israel and Palestine. Founded and run by local Christian Arabs, it is headquartered in the Maronite Church compound in old Jerusalem. Learn more at