Here’s the sixth dispatch from Kansas City – St. Joseph Vice-Chancellor Dr. Claude Sasso on the Kansas City pilgrimage to the Holy Land being led by Bishop Robert W. Finn:
Amman, Jordan (November 5, 2009) - Amman, a cosmopolitan city named after the Biblical Ammonites whom King David fought, was our home for two nights in the well appointed Meriden hotel. The Pilgrimage group began this day with a tour of Christ the King parish in Amman, which is supported in part by the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher and which was also the parish of our guide in Jordan, Omar. Omar assured us that although Catholics and other Christians only make up 4 percent of the Jordanian population, with the other 96 percent Muslim, that they really get along well. At the parish we were met by the pastor, the nine member parish council (who were obviously taking time off work) and the principal of the Catholic high school at the parish, which covers 10th-12th grade.
During our Mass in the parish church, Bishop Finn said that the life of the Church is very much the life of the parish so that it was very meaningful and special to be inserted into the life of this parish. The High School choir sank for us at the Mass and the boys and girls were truly harmonious and wonderful. The gathered in a circle around their leader so as to focus upon their music and sang the Our Father in Arabic as well.
Just as the majesty of God’s creation was evident in the beauty of the walled cliffs of Petra and the beauty of his creation from the heights of Mt. Nebo yesterday, today we experienced his warmth in the school students, 80 percent of whom were planning to go onto college providing they passed the state exams. The students were anxious to greet us and practice their English skills. One could not fail to be impressed with their vitality and warmth.
Our next stop was in the town of Madaba outside of Amman, whose name means fruit and water, symbolizing the rich soil of the area. We visited the St. Georges Greek Orthodox Church, where we were greeted by the pastor.
Our final stop before returning to Amann was at the Jordan River site thought to be the location of where Jesus asked John the Baptist to baptize him. We got off the bus and walked about one-half mile on a trail that led to the Jordan, passing Syriac and Greek Orthodox chapels, respectively, on the way. Once we arrived Bishop Finn led us in a recitation of our Baptismal vows, reminding us that the waters many were filling their bottles with need not have his blessing because they were sanctified by Christ at his baptism.
(Pics – A grotto and school children from the high school in Amman)