A Unique Volunteer Experience

Volunteer Maria Fernanda de la Garza

When I think of a volunteer experience I think of playing with underprivileged kids, caring for elderly, feeding the poor or building house for the homeless. But Magdala on the Sea of Galilee offers a unique volunteer experience. How is this for an agenda:

• Greeting pilgrims from many nations as well as local Jewish families

• Feeding and herding donkeys and camels in a “Gospel Farm”

• Giving tours in an ancient synagogue followed by a modern Catholic church in any language you can manage to speak

• Cleaning bathrooms

• Selling souvenirs

• Excavating and uncovering the 1st century town of Magdala

• Saturday visits to archeological and holy sites in the Holy Land

Magdala is a crossroads between Jewish and Christian culture and depends upon the time, talent and treasure of generous persons.

Founded by Fr. Juan Solana in 2009, the volunteer program offers a unique experience of inter-religious community living, while providing spiritual support for Christians, including the Catholic sacraments of Holy Mass and Confession, opportunities for spiritual guidance and daily meditation, and trips to Christian holy sites, as well as other culturally noteworthy sites.

Whether for two days or one year, volunteers are asked to live one essential virtue – availability- ready and willing to lend a hand in any task that will help provide an atmosphere of welcome and warmth to all who visit. This is no easy task when the heat rises to over 100 degrees in August, or your bones can’t shake the chill of the rainy November days, or tiredness sets in after a long day of cleaning or offering tours. Yet, it forges a human heart willing to give for the sake of the other, even in a hidden way.

Perhaps these volunteers are the silent message of Magdala. There we recall Mary Magdalene, a woman who encountered the acceptance and warmth of Jesus Christ. She became a disciple remembered in the gospels for her assistance in Jesus’ ministry. Luke 8: 1-3 recalls the silent witness of many such women who were ready and willing to provide out of their own sustenance.

“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”

Are you also called to be a part of this silent witness? Apply and see: http://magdalacenter.com/Contents.asp?pageID=245

 

 

About Jennifer Ristine

Jennifer Ristine consecrated her life to God in the Regnum Christi Movement in 1997. Her background includes working in education with diverse populations, from children with disabilities to offering faith and spiritual formation to teens and adults. She currently does pastoral work at the Magdala Center in the Holy Land. She is the oldest of seven children and currently boasts of 15 nieces and nephews.
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