My name is Father David Wathen, OFM, and I serve as the director of the Franciscan Monastery Pilgrimage Office in Washington, D.C.
As a member of the Holy Land province of Franciscans, I have had the blessing of serving in the lands of the Bible. For most of the nine years of ministry in the Holy Land, I served as a spiritual leader of pilgrimages. It was a valuable learning experience which has served me well in my current ministry as director of the pilgrimage office.
My three years of service in Bethlehem helped me to better understand the challenges the Palestinian Christians faced in living their faith in an environment which is predominantly Muslim.
In my three years of service in Jerusalem, I saw how the challenges for the local Christians were different as they were a tiny minority in a city which was predominantly Jewish.
The last three years of service were in the resort town of Tiberias in Galilee which gave me the opportunity to learn more about the concerns of the Jews of the land. These broad based experiences have served me well in trying to paint an intelligible and balanced picture for the pilgrims when I accompany them through this land we call holy.
In 2007 I was appointed by my provincial to serve as the director of our pilgrimage office here in Washington. I was genuinely grateful for this opportunity to both organize pilgrimages and to accompany the pilgrims through the lands of the Bible. Previously I simply accompanied the pilgrims as their guide and sometimes as guide and chaplain. Now I have been given the opportunity to develop ways in which to become personally involved in encouraging potential pilgrims to join us for a pilgrimage. It was an appointment I welcomed with enthusiasm.
If you have ever considered making a pilgrimage to the lands of the Bible, I invite you now to “Come see where the Master lives.”
Father David Wathen, OFM