A couple years ago, I started to consider taking parishioners on a pilgrimage. I wasn’t sure where I felt called to go, and so I presented the idea at a staff meeting. One of our staff members suggested a pilgrimage focused on women Saints. I thought it sounded like a good idea, but I didn’t act on it. Then, suddenly, I received a brochure in the mail featuring women saints of Italy. I reached out to the company and I am in talks with them to lead a pilgrimage in late September and early October of 2019. That’s a year away.
Provided we have enough participation (I need at least 20 people, but preferably more) we will visit Holy sites throughout Italy. We will go to Rome to visit Holy sites related to St. Agnes and St. Susanna, and St. Cecelia (as well as places like the Roman Coliseum). We will also make our way to Cascia to learn about St. Rita. We will also visit Assisi to honor St. Clare and Sienna to pray with St. Catherine (a very important Saint for our own particular time and place). In Challenging times for our Church, the lives of the Saints can help to inspire us and show us the way forward.
I’ve been on pilgrimages in the past and I am working to make sure we avoid some pitfalls I have experienced. One problem with pilgrimages I’ve experienced is overloaded schedules. I believe less is more when you go on a pilgrimage, so I have built in some free days to relax and pray privately. This will include one full free day in Rome.
I know that cost is a big issue, and is likely the first question on a person’s mind. I don’t know how much it will cost yet but we need to try to book flights soon. I would encourage you to budget about $4,000 for this experience, especially if you plan to spend extra money shopping. And remember, pilgrimages are primarily about prayer, conversion, and growing in holiness. It is not about vacation. If vacation is something you are looking for, this might not be the right experience for you.
The sooner we can book our flights the better because prices will start going up soon. Please let me know if you are interested. Email me as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you in Italy!