Tantur’s Continuing Education Programs
A Spiritual and Educational Journey Through the Holy Land
The Continuing Education Programs of Tantur Ecumenical Institute introduces its participants to many fascinating and unique aspects of the Holy Land. It is often said that to experience the Holy Land is to live “the Fifth Gospel” – that is, once you know the land, you will then understand the other four gospels more deeply. Our programs weave classroom instruction in such topics as Old and New Testament, Biblical Geography, History of the Middle East and Spirituality with guided tours of the many religious and historical sites this land has to offer. In addition, our Tantur Programs also seek to introduce our participants to the people of this land. So we introduce them to you, both in their history and in their contemporary existence.
But the peoples of this land are more than other parts of the Christian family. They are also our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters. Distinguished professors and lecturers who live and work in both Palestine and Israel will discuss Jewish and Muslim thought, belief and practice as well as exploring the reality of Christianity as it is practiced and lived in this complex milieu.The classroom experience is not complete without the many field trips that bring to life the very religious faith we speak of. These are wide ranging and include sites around Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, the Dead Sea and the Negev. Each program also includes an extended trip to Galilee to visit the places where most of Jesus’ ministry occurred. We aim to immerse each participant into one of the most intricate historical, religious, cultural and political places in the world today so that they may discover for themselves what the Holy Land truly is.
Pacing and Extra-Curricular Activities
One aspect that distinguishes the Tantur experience from other worthwhile short pilgrimages is the amount of free time the program offers. Our schedule generally includes either a lecture or trip six days each week, with Sundays usually being free. Besides Sunday, several other free days or half-days are scheduled as well. This pacing allows each participant to personalize their time for study and/or exploration. Some choose to visit the many museums in the area, or savor the opportunity to wander the streets of Bethlehem or through the Old City of Jerusalem. Others prefer nature hikes or visits to different cities. Many simply appreciate the long uninterrupted hours of reading and study either in our magnificent library or among the roses and palm trees in the garden. All of these opportunities are readily available to those who participate in the Tantur program
At Tantur, our mission begins in our community. When you come to Tantur, you will meet a diverse group of people from different Christian denominations, religions, nationalities, and ages. The community living at Tantur is constantly in flux, comprised at any given time of our Continuing Education Program participants, undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Notre Dame, visiting church groups, scholars, university students, and seminary students. To give the best possible care and attention to our programs, our international staff and volunteers live on site with their families. Families with children are welcome at Tantur as we believe that the future of our mission depends on the next generation. Our Ecumenical Evening Prayer and meal times are anchor points in our days to bring the whole community together to pray and eat together. In addition to these constants, we also have various other formal and informal community activities including lectures, special holiday celebrations, movie nights, and various cultural events. When you come to Tantur, we hope that you will feel welcome in our community and know that your presence with us contributes to our goals of ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, and peacebuilding. How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! - Psalm 13
While Tantur Ecumenical Institute is under the care of the Vatican and the University of Notre Dame, it exists within the cultural context of the Middle East, and is located in Jerusalem, a center of convergence of many peoples, faiths, and beliefs. While at Tantur, you will not only encounter different expressions of Christianity and other religions, but you will also encounter different ways of thinking and being. We ask you to come to Tantur with an open heart and an open mind to see the ways in which these differences can be a gift to your life. It is not uncommon to experience an acclimation period, or even “culture shock,” while on our Continuing Education Programs. You may feel disoriented, uncomfortable, anxious, or sometimes even angry by the challenges that living in another culture may present to you. We encourage our participants to encounter and process these feelings as a community, and share with us both the joys and challenges of living within another culture as a pilgrim and sojourner. We believe that intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth comes when we step out of our comfort zone and encounter the other. Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” - Matthew 14:22-29
The spiritual life of Tantur depends upon the community's commitment to praying together for half an hour 6 days a week during a time called Ecumenical Evening Prayer. This time of prayer is for the whole community to attend, participate in, and lead. The leadership of this prayer changes depending upon who is staying at Tantur. During our Continuing Education Programs, we offer the opportunity for each participant to lead at least one Ecumenical Evening Prayer. Our visiting scholars and various visiting groups are invited to participate in the leadership of this prayer when they are able. Additionally, our various international staff members lead prayer a few times a month. While the prayer generally draws on the tradition of the leader, the spirit of the prayer is always ecumenical, acknowledging that those who gather come from diverse Christian traditions. The ecumenical nature of Tantur allows participants to share and discover Christian traditions of celebrating Eucharist different from their own. The surroundings of Tantur Ecumenical Institute create an ideal environment for spiritual reflection. Some of our Continuing Education Programs offer the opportunity to participate in formal spiritual retreats. While the possibility for individuals to take a day off from the program for their own spiritual renewal is always available “One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” - Psalm 27:4