Scripture came alive for the nine Desert Formation Experience pilgrims as they “walked in the footsteps of Jesus.” 1 Seeking Wisdom and Holiness in the Holy Land “My heart is beating fast at the thought of entering the land where Jesus was born, where he walked, where he died, and where he rose from the dead. I can’t quite imagine it yet in my mind’s eye.” These were the thoughts of an elated Bro. David Brokke, SOLT, as he and eight Sacred Heart seminarians, all entering their second year of graduate theology, were packing their duffel bags preparing for their long-anticipated Desert Formation Experience. The next day, Wednesday, May 4, the men gathered in the seminary lobby and received a praying over by the Sacred Heart community. Then they boarded a plane for Tel Aviv and a month-long journey of faith to the Holy Land. The goal? To visit the Holy Land’s sacred sites and walk the same paths as did Christ the Savior. As the men ventured out each day 18 on this thirty-day spiritual pilgrimage—with its highpoints and it “sandpaper” annoyances that every pilgrim experiences—they were discerning if Christ is truly calling them to serve the Church as “missionary servants” through his holy priesthood. Different Than a Retreat The hill of Calvary, the Sea of Galilee, the River Jordan, the Garden of Gethsemane—here and other holy spaces the seminarians sought spiritual wisdom while praying especially for Sacred Heart’s benefactors. Each evening, they drew insights from their experiences, guided by expert Sacred Heart Major Seminary | Mosaic | Fall 2016 formators Fr. Gerard Battersby, Sacred Heart’s vice rector, and graduate spiritual director Msgr. Daniel Trapp. And the insights were many. “This pilgrimage has taught me a lot about my brother seminarians,” shared Perrin Atisha, Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas seminarian. “The greatest thing I will walk away with is knowing my brothers are in love with the Lord and his Church. This brings great hope to the future of the Church.” On a sleepy morning when he discovered the hostel espresso machine was out of order, Matthew Wagner of the Diocese of Winona reflected (albeit glumly) how we tend to take for granted the many gifts that God provides. “These gifts lose their value as we unconsciously receive them day after day. After all, so much of our life is routine, and even the smallest things which once we were able to delight in, we become indifferent to; feeling we are in some way entitled to such things.” “I need to remember that a pilgrimage is different from a retreat. A pilgrimage, much like daily life, is more about walking with Jesus and receiving from him in the midst of the hustle and bustle,” is an insight expressed by Derik Peterman of the Archdiocese of Detroit. “Yet, life demands that we come off the mountaintop and continue our journey. We must often keep moving even when we would prefer to linger in those blessed moments.” Experience the Journey The pilgrimage ended on June 3 in the Holy City of Rome and included a Wednesday Audience blessing by the Holy Father. After a short break, the men continued their summer of discernment with a thirtyday Ignatian silent retreat at the Broom Tree Retreat Center in Irene, South Dakota, which concluded on July 22. The Desert Formation pilgrims—Rodney Abbasso, Perrin Atisha, Bro. David Brokke, SOLT, Br. Romeo Cappella, CCL, Zaid Chabaan, Matthew Montgomery, Adam Nowak, Derik Peterman, and Matthew Wagner—invite you to share their experience at desertformation.org. It could be like a spiritual pilgrimage for you, as well.