One of the greatest desires of Pope Paul VI was to build in Israel a center where Seminarians could complete their formation before being ordained. It was with this frame of mind that the Vatican purchased Notre Dame, near the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. At the beginning of the 80’s, the Custodian in the Holy Land offered the Neo-Catechumenal Way (see page on The Neo-Catechumenal Way) the possibility to build a center of formation, for studies and retreat, on a piece of land situated on the Mount of Beatitudes.
This work is of particular interest to the Church and for Israel. Pope John Paul II, when he was first informed about the project “Domus Galilaeae” in 1994, showed his enthusiasm. He blessed it and supported it, seeing in it a service for all peoples and “for the whole Church”. In the following years all the permits were obtained for the construction which began in January 1999, with the laying of the first stone, which contained a fragment of the tomb of St. Peter, blessed by the Holy Father.
Kiko, Carmen and Fr. Mario, initiators of the Neo Catechumenal Way and promoters of the Domus Galilaeae project, together with the architects who have worked on the plans for the construction, were awaiting him; the Holy Father made no secret of his sincere affection for the initiators of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, and stated. After the presentations, the Holy Father blessed the Sanctuary of the Word. The Holy Father gave the impression that he felt at home there to the point that it appeared that he did not want to leave.
24 MARCH 2000