New Kensington Resident Makes Holy Land-Rome Pilgrimage as Part of Duquesne Documentary Team
Dr. Dennis Woytek of New Kensington, assistant professor of journalism and multimedia arts at Duquesne University, documented a historic interfaith trip to the Holy Land and Rome as part of a group of nearly 30 lay and religious leaders.
The Pursuer of Peace Pilgrimage, led by Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik and Rabbi Aaron Bisno of Pittsburgh’s Rodef Shalom Congregation, spent about three days in Rome and three days in the Holy Land, visiting spiritually significant sites. Woytek, an Erie native who has won Telly Awards and guided students in Telly Award-winning productions, also has previously documented mission efforts in South America for the diocese. He was accompanied by Lauren Hensley, a graduate student in Duquesne’s multimedia technology program.
The trip’s roots stretch back to when the Rodef Shalom, Pittsburgh’s oldest and largest Jewish house of worship, presented its first Pursuer of Peace Award this summer to Zubik. They wanted to “carry forth that mission, to share it, built it, and make certain that this was not just an event, but a movement of the Spirit throughout our community,” says a brochure on the pilgrimage.
The goal of the trip was to strengthen understanding between the two faith communities as they visit holy sites, including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican museums, the catacombs of Catholics and Jews, the Roman Forum and a meeting with the chief rabbi at the synagogue in Rome. In the Holy Land, the pilgrims visited the Church of the Nativity, the Mount of the Beatitudes, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and Yad Vashem, the international Holocaust memorial, meeting with leaders in the Jewish and Catholic dialogue.
“The pilgrimage will be a celebration of Catholic-Jewish relations. But much more,” the brochure says. “Just as a pilgrimage begins with one step, this will be one step in bringing the Catholic and Jewish communities closer together in the work of our faiths in the pursuit of peace.”
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