2017 Trips to Historic Religious Sites

Karen Karaszewski Around the Province

Bagnoregio, the birthplace of St. Bonaventure.

Bagnoregio, the birthplace of St. Bonaventure.

Individuals seeking to enrich their faith lives are invited to participate in a pilgrimage to historic Franciscan sites and the Holy Land.

Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs, a non-profit ministry of Assumption BVM Province, is offering a variety of experiences throughout 2017. The trips are open to religious and laypeople, and offer an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of holy men and women.

The organization has 45 years of experience leading groups to significant religious sites and facilitating the sharing of spirituality of place and the Franciscan vision of life. Dates and complete itineraries are available on the FPP website.

A new Franciscan opportunity is a pilgrimage commemorating the eighth centenary of the birth of St. Bonaventure, taking place from July 8 to 19, 2017. The pilgrimage begins at Bagnoregio, Italy, birthplace of Giovanni di Fidanza, who would later become St. Bonaventure. Featured on the trip are visits to significant sites in Italy, where he spent his early years, and France, where he began his life as a Franciscan.

Highlights will include visits to La Verna’s cave-chapel, where he prayed, and Lyon, where he died. Pilgrims will celebrate the Feast of St. Bonaventure on July 15 with Mass at the church of his burial at the altar that once entombed his body.

Also presented in 2017 is a pilgrimage to the Northern California Missions to celebrate the recent canonization of Junípero Serra. Franciscan Pilgrimages offers a three-year program to visit all 21 missions. The trip, scheduled for August 7 to 14, will focus on the northern missions including San Francisco de Asis, San Carlos (in Carmel), San Juan Bautista, Soledad, Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Raphael and San Francisco Solano (Sonoma).

For travelers wishing to expand their Franciscan experience, Beyond Assisi is a 14-day trip that takes participants to many areas of Italy that have produced faithful followers of St. Francis and St. Clare and have influenced the Franciscan movement.

Three opportunities are available to experience the Holy Land in 2017, as well as a leadership pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome and a pilgrimage for educators, alumni and staff of Franciscan colleges and universities. Veterans of the military and their families are invited to participate in a pilgrimage along the paths of St. Francis and St. Clare from May 15-23, 2017.

For those interested in traveling to the Holy Land this year, Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs is offering a trip from Oct. 23 to Nov. 2 and includes a $300 discount to each participant. The itinerary stops in the Church of the Nativity, site of the birth of Christ, and at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

“We need to have peace and goodness in our own hearts in order to share it,” Fr. John Cella, OFM, director of the Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs, said. “We believe our pilgrimages will bring forth and strengthen the goodness and peace of God that resides in you.”

Franciscan scholars representing all branches of the Franciscan family lead the trips.

Karen Karaszewski, a St. Bonaventure University graduate, is a freelance writer based in Western New York.

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