Mission & History


Our Mission

In an atmosphere of hospitality, community, and openness to encounter common roots, we seek to live out our mission through:

  • Assisting in the search for Christian companionship on the path of unity and inter-church harmony among diverse Christian denominations. 
  • Developing an ecumenical spirit through a broader and deeper understanding and appreciation of each other's faith and traditions, ethics and social witness, liturgies, and pieties.
  • Exploring the relationships between Christians and peoples of other world faiths, especially Judaism and Islam.
  • Participating in the search for world peace and justice, through theological study and through exploration of human rights and conflict resolution in different religious and social contexts.
  • Offering a variety of Continuing Education and Sabbatical Programs which include a variety of lectures and excursions designed to introduce participants to the Holy Land’s geography, history, complex religious life, its local peoples, and the Bible, thus giving our faith a deeper spiritual reality.  

Our History

The Tantur Ecumenical Institute was first envisioned in the 1960s, a time when churches were moving away from confessional exclusivity toward a new wave of openness, encounter, and dialog with each other. Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant observers at the Second Vatican Council planted the seed in Pope Paul VI's mind to establish a place where church reconciliation through encounter could happen. In January, 1964, he traveled to the Holy Land and met (for the first time in 500 years) with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople on the Mount of Olives. At this juncture, Jerusalem came into the spotlight as the ideal location for a joint Ecumenical Institute. Pope Paul VI ultimately entrusted this project to Fr. Ted Hesburgh, CSC, and the University of Notre Dame.

The Institute opened its first programs in 1972. Since then, we have welcomed over 5,000 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, and Catholic participants to our programs. They have come from all over the world to encounter the sacredness of the Holy Land and to live in Tantur's rich ecumenical environment. Located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Tantur is uniquely located as an oasis of encounter, learning, prayer, and hospitality amidst the immense geo-political complexity of this part of the world.