Domus Galilee: The Story of God’s work

In 1980, the initiators of the Neo-catechumenal Way, Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, began the Domus Galilee Project. The custodian of the Holy Site offered to lease 8 acres of land overlooking the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes to the Neo-catechumenal Way. Following a period of fund raising, construction began in 1999 with the blessing of the Holy Father, John Paul II. The 135,000 square feet complex includes the Church for Eucharistic celebrations, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, library, dining room, meeting rooms, reception area, kitchen, and waiting rooms. There are 100 rooms able to host over 20,000 pilgrims each year. All the rooms face the lake and are used as a place of meditation and rest. The Domus Galilee is also home to the Redemtoris Mater Seminary of Galilee, preparing priests for the diocese of the Holy Land.

A place for God and His People

Since its opening, the Domus Galilee has hosted many from all walks of life. Domus Galilee is used for International Theological and Episcopal conferences, hosting 2,000 Bishops, 5,000 Priests and 60,000 seminarians from around the world for biblical studies and the formation of clergy. Neo-catechumenal communities and their Catechists come to walk in Christís steps. A Pontifical ecclesiastical academy hosts representatives of different movements, religious meetings and representatives of different religions. Over 800,000 Israelis and Jews have come to the Domus, making them the largest group of visitors.

Domus Jerusalem: Continuing the Mission

The presence in Jerusalem of the most sacred biblical sites makes Domus Jerusalem the ideal place to witness the living presence of God, to be a channel of communication with Israel, and to help Christians to understand the roots of their faith. The motivation to build the Domus Jerusalem has been inspired by the experience of the birth of the Domus Galilee and the 86 diocesan Redemptoris Mater Seminaries across the world. John Paul II on many occasions reiterated the need to return to our Jewish roots in order to understand and live Christianity. The Domus Jerusalem will be a place where Christians and Jews, pilgrims, seminarians and priests will all have direct contact with the living tradition of Jerusalem.

The Project

The Domus Jerusalem Project seeks to establish and build a pilgrim retreat house, library and chapel in Jerusalem. This presence of the Church in the Holy Land will be a sign of Godís continuing work among us and the Churchís continuing renewal.

One of the greatest desires of Pope Paul VI was to build a center in Israel where Seminarians could complete their formation before being ordained. Pope John Paul II showed his enthusiasm for the Domus Galilee project, blessed it and supported it, seeing in it a service for all peoples but especially to open a bridge of love with the people of Israel.

The Location

Above the Kidron Valley, overlooking the Western Wall of the Temple and the Golden Gate, the Domus site is in the southwest quarter of the City. The Domus Jerusalem is within walking distance of all the sacred sites of ancient Jerusalem, adjacent to the Mt. of Olives where Jesus prayed with his disciples. The Domus is perfectly situated as a sign of the Churchís growth in the Holy Land. For centuries, this location has commanded the most familiar view of Jerusalem and has been a destination for pilgrims. Tradition holds that on the night of Our Lordís Passion, the apostles fled to this site, as refuge prior to Jesusí trial and Crucifixion. On site, providentially, there is a tomb from the time of Jesus where Judeo-Christian inscriptions have been found. This tomb has been incorporated to the project.

The History of the Project

In 1995 the land and buildings above the Kidron Valley, overlooking the Jerusalemís Golden Gate, were leased to the Neo-catechumenal Way by the Syrian Catholic Patriarch as a place of prayer, pilgrimage, and reflection. The House of Mamre, which currently occupies the site, has become an important pilgrimage destination and step in the formation of Redemptoris Mater priests. In 2005, following the completion of the Domus Galilee, negotiations began with the Patriarch for a more permanent presence in Jerusalem. This resulted in a long-term lease and commitment to build a permanent presence on the site, modeled on the experience of the Domus Galilee. Fund raising efforts have begun with initial donations to cover architectural work, licensing and permits. Initial ground preparation is ready to begin. We have the dream to eventually purchase the land where the Domuns Jerusalem is to be built, a priviledged and beautiful place. The author of the project is Kiko Arguello and is being coordinated by an international team of architects: Mattia del Prete, Italian; Guillermo Soler and Antonio Abalos, Spanish; and Gotfred Klaibert, German.