Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Visiting Jordan is an experience that "exudes joy"

Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader :

A few days ago, I saw a billboard for the largest Christian pilgrimage institution in Italy, called Opera Romana, which urges people to register their names for a trip to Jordan so as to spend New Year's Day 2022 in our dear country. The billboard reads," Do not hesitate to come to Jordan, the Holy Land. Come and you will have a joy-filled hearts experience." I was very happy with this billboard which was posted  in English and Italian because it stands as truly a sign of appreciation and fairness to our wonderful country.


The Institution Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi is one of the largest international organizations for arranging Christian pilgrimages. It is affiliated with the Vatican through its direct contact with the Rome Diocese. Every year, especially before the eruption of  Corona pandemic, Jordan welcomed dozens of pilgrimage flights. We often learned from Italian-language tour guides that they are "not able to meet all the requests". At present, praise the Lord, we witness a phase marked by gradual tourism recovery and find Opera Romana--that has a longstanding cooperation with both the Ministry of Tourism and the Jordan Tourism Board-- play a key role in relevant cooperation since its is in readiness  to restore activities relevant to religious tourism  from  Italy to Jordan. It is quite honorable to give us the responsibility to demonstrate a warm welcome and reveal the bright image of Jordan.


Opera Roman Pellegrinaggi is a founding member of the Tourism Federation of the Italian Christian Pilgrimage Offices.  Two years ago, I had the honor with Mr. Amer Twal, the official in charge of Christian pilgrimage in the Jordan Tourism Board, to  take part in the meetings of the of the federations' General Assembly meetings where we were warmly welcomed. We earlier participated in the meetings of the French Association of the Federation of Pilgrimage Agencies in France.


I recall that in 2015 I was invited by the Jordan Tourism Board to participate in a seminar with Opera Romana, and I was surprised that their brochures read: “Visit the Holy Land and Jordan."I suggested that they remove the word "and"  and so was the case. Today, we find annual and monthly brochures reading: "Visit Jordan--the Holy Land."


It is important to note that the pilgrimage trips are sometimes common as they include visits to the holy places in Palestine while others are only confined to Jordan. This institution assigns specialized priests, who accompany their  tourist groups, with whom we have strong ties. They  excel in presenting historical explanations of our Jordanian sites as they  supervise the visits of their delegations in every touristic religious site.  Since they are fully aware of everything in our country and every touristic site, they deserve to be supported and honored because this they represent one of the major touristic institutions that promotes visits to our country, Jordan.


As I am interested in tourism and for being a member of the National Tourism Board, I talked earlier with Opera Romani about the need to meet with Jordanians and not to be sufficed with visiting historical sites. A change was consequently made marked by celebrating Holy Masses in churches, followed by meetings with people, namely the present Jordanians. Visiting the historical sites is merely a visit to the past, while meeting with Jordanians means  encountering the honorable Jordanian present which is a source of joy and pleasure for guest tourists. Therefore, Opera Romana does not hesitate to state that visiting Jordan fills the hearts of guests with joy ,  while our hearts as hosts are filled with joy as well by forming  new friendships with the children of the same human planet.


Finally, I write this article in a Royal Jordanian plane on my return trip from Frankfurt to Amman. As the trip was delayed by one day due to a partial strike at Frankfurt Airport, the two-day passengers were gathered in one flight, and I was pleased to see three tourist groups coming to Jordan from Germany on board one plane. One official told me that they would be staying for two weeks in Jordan. This is very honorable as it also requires taking the necessary health precautions. This heralds the start of tourist seasons that will overwhelm hearts with joy.  A song was played on board the Royal Jordanian plane which says, "Let us go to Jordan!"