Here in the middle of Lent, it is sort of awkward to focus on anything that would be great fun, but I want to do that in order to give you a chance to think about it. Now we are fasting and holding back, but this fall we will have great reason to celebrate. One of our own, Patrick Lewis, will be ordained a Deacon for the Archdiocese of Washington at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Around this great event, I have set up a pilgrimage to Rome and Italy to give parishioners from Saint Bernadette the chance to experience an ordination Mass, and the marvels of the center of our universal Church, as friends and parish-family members of one of the central participants.
At the heart of the pilgrimage will be attendance at the Wednesday audience of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, and the next morning’s magnificent Ordination Mass in the Vatican Basilica. The latter is one of the highlights of the year in the life of the Pontifical North American College, the United States’ seminary in Rome, home to 250 men preparing for Priesthood, and alma mater to both Father DeRosa and me. The former is one of the highlights in the lifetime of any Catholic.
That is not all we will do in Rome. We will visit sites that connect us to the lives of the earliest Christians, see the beauty of art and life from millennia of life in that great city, and enjoy its fountains, squares, and cobblestone streets. Of course, we won’t only be in Rome, either.
We will begin in Siena, a beautiful Tuscan town whose culture and life peaked in the middle ages, home of Saint Catherine. There will be side trips to Montalcino, San Gemignano, and Montepulciano, each of which is known not only for its charm and beauty but its own distinctive and delightful wine. We will then visit Assisi, home of Saints Francis and Clare.
We will also stop in Orvieto, where the celebration of Corpus Christi originated in the 13th century, a personal favorite of mine atop a mesa, as we move south through Umbria on the way to Rome. Then we will have four full days in the Eternal City herself. I have lived there nine years of my life, and always enjoy showing folks around my other home, Rome.
We will have Mass each day at an altar in one of the historic and holy places we will be visiting. There will a few museums, a few more churches, much walking, and more eating. We will grow in grace, wisdom, understanding – and possibly girth. (Though that’s what the walking will help with). And it will be fun.
You have to think about all this good stuff now, in the middle of Lent, I am afraid, since we need to have your registration for the trip and deposits by Monday April 25 – the day after Easter. Full brochures on the pilgrimage are available at the rectory, or you can contact us and we will email it to you.
So, get a brochure, check your calendar, think about how great this will be, and ask if you have any questions. Sign up for the adventure, then go back to prayer, fasting, and giving alms for the second half of Lent. God be with you!