Indy Super Bowl Priest Opening Yet Another Door

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Fr. Rick Nagel, a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis will be traveling with Tekton Ministries and leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land for college students and his parish. Fr. Nagel gained notoriety during the Super Bowl in 2012 with his evangelization efforts at his downtown, landmark church of St. John the Evangelist.

Fr. Rick Nagel

We chose the Holy Land as a pilgrimage site because we are celebrating our 175th anniversary.

During the Super Bowl in Indianapolis in 2012, Fr. Rick Nagel gained notoriety for an unusual reason. The planned zip line in Super Bowl village ended at the front door of his downtown landmark church. And that door, he said, would be open to all who would be traveling to see the big game.

Now, two years later, Fr. Nagel is opening yet another door. This one is far from downtown Indianapolis.

Fr. Rick will be leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land for a number of college students and resident parishioners who are under his spiritual care at St. John the Evangelist.

"The thing I'm most excited about is leading my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land and witnessing how God wants to work in each of our lives to draw Himself to a deeper relationship with Him by walking in the steps of Jesus," he said about his upcoming pilgrimage.

During their trip, Fr. Nagel and his fellow pilgrims will be praying at some of the most ancient Christian sites the Holy Land has to offer. After driving along the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea, once a majestic city where St. Peter preached and St. Paul was imprisoned, the group will visit cities mentioned often in the New Testament, such as Cana, Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes and Nazareth.

"Pilgrimages are an excellent way for all people to take a break from the trenches of life and allow God to raise them up to something more in their lives. He has so much to give us and we only need to allow His grace to flow," said Fr. Nagel about the reason why he believes pilgrimages are such an important part of one's faith journey.

The pilgrims traveling with the priest will spend their first days near the Sea of Galilee. Afterward, they will go up to Jerusalem just as Jesus did, as the Bible recounts.

The trip to Jerusalem took days to complete for pilgrims in the time of Jesus. For Fr. Nagel, it will only take hours. On the way he and the others will stop at the River Jordan where Jesus was baptized. Next will be Jericho, where the “walls came tumbling down”. Jericho is one of the oldest populated cities on earth. It is also one of the lowest cities on earth, as it is located close to the Dead Sea.

Jerusalem is said to never disappoint, according to the surveys of many pilgrims who have traveled with Tekton Ministries, a Catholic pilgrimage provider, in the past.

When the pilgrims reach Jerusalem they will spend six days experiencing some of the most intense days of Jesus’ life. From the Mount of Olives they will look across the Kidron Valley through which Jesus walked many times. In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, they will pray on Calvary, site of the crucifixion. They will silently process past the tomb of Christ, left empty by his Resurrection. They will walk the Way of the Cross. And they will see, too, the chapel that marks the place of his Ascension into heaven.

When asked why he decided to lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and not another destination, the pastor of St. John the Evangelist said, "We chose the Holy Land as a pilgrimage site because we are celebrating our 175th anniversary as a parish [the oldest Catholic Church in Indianapolis] and wanted to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and our patron, St. John."

Fr. Nagel's pilgrimage is will be provided by Tekton Ministries, a Catholic-Christian organization that has a special relationship with the Franciscans in charge of the holy places (serving as public relations manager for the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land)

One thing is sure. When Fr. Nagel and his group return on March 23, 2014, they will never read the Bible the same again. They will have concrete experiences of being at the places that before were just words on a page or images in their thoughts. Now they will have memories of the encounters they had with Christ at each holy site.

If you are interested in learning more about a future pilgrimage, please contact Tekton Ministries at info(at)tektonministries(dot)org or visit their webpage at

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Chris Weldon
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