Principal Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
International School Kavieng,
New Ireland Papua New Guinea
I was fortunate to participate in the 2019 Easter-Passover Study Programme offered by the Centre for Biblical Formation, at Ecce Homo. The experience can best be described as a coming together of a group of like-minded people from diverse backgrounds in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. What bound us together I believe is that we were united as seekers of Biblical knowledge in the birthplace of Jesus and were open to "otherness" and to new insights.
The opportunity to live and study at Ecce Homo, a building with centuries of ancient history and the legacy of service lived out by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion was a gift to all of us.
The streets inside the Old City and outside its ramparts provided "the best classroom (quoting Hannah our Jewish guide) daily experience" for the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic understanding of our
From Palm Sunday marking Holy Week for the Christians, to Pesach for theJewish people, our senses were flooded with sights, sounds, smells, words, singing and movement in the streets and in places of worship. My memory of mid-day on Good Friday is forever seared in my heart : a Christian group enacting the Passion of Jesus meeting at the intersection of Via Dolorosa outside Ecce Homo with an ocean of Muslim people heading to Al Aqsa Mosque for their mid-day prayer. The Muslim people came to a complete stop in pin-drop silence and respectfully allowed the Christian pilgrims to continue on.
The Upper Terrace of Ecce Homo provides the best 360 degree view of Jerusalem and never ceased to delight our eyes as we beheld each time the magnificence of the golden Dome of the Rock and the beautiful familiar turret of the Lutheran Church. The formal closing down of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 9 pm became for many of us a not-to-be missed ritual each night. There are innumerable Biblical sites and landmarks to be visited and revisited as often as one pleases throughout the Course.
A highlight is the overnight visit to Galilee and to Qumran stopping at Jericho on the return, whether or not one has an interest in or is a scholar of Scripture or the history and geography of the Bible Lands.
The nearly two and a half-week course of study was challenging on many levels. Fr Scott Lewis sj our principal lecturer introduced us to the Johannine Jesus through carefully prepared lectures and images that provoked a personal response to the question "Who do you say that I am?" Guest lecturers like Fr David Neuhaus sj enriched our understanding of the Suffering Servant readings in Isaiah. I was able to use a lot of the course material as rich resources for my students of senior Religious Education on my return to Melbourne. In addition, Jewish guest lecturers provided for us a deep appreciation of Pesach, its historical and present day significance for the Jewish people, the preparation for its celebration and its message.
I warmly encourage potential students to consider doing a course or more at Centre for Biblical Formation, Ecce Homo. It will be reward of a lifetime I assure you I am very keen to return as soon as my present commitments are concluded.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart International School Kavieng, New Ireland
Papua New Guinea