Boston Shrine Takes Guests on Day Trips

HNP Communications Friar News

BOSTON — Barry Langley, OFM, likes to work and play hard. The St. Anthony Shrine friar combines work and vacation, taking two to three cruises a year as the onboard chaplain.

The travel enthusiast also likes to minister to shrine guests through travel, planning day-trips, or what he calls local “pilgrimages,” around New England.

In 2007, Barry started Tony’s Travelers, a ministry that offers shrine guests a chance to enjoy spiritual and themed trips to unique locations throughout New England. The page on the shrine website says, “Hop on the bus with Tony’s Travelers.”

Each month, Barry arranges a trip for the group, whimsically named for Tony, the nickname for Anthony, the patron saint of the shrine. He plans roughly five or six a year, always including one at Christmas-time.

Each trip includes time for community, building friendships, private reflection, Mass, great sightseeing venues and wonderful eateries, said Barry, and there’s always an ice cream stop along the way.

A Day Trip With Purpose
The idea for a travel group grew out of the pilgrimage concept, said Barry. While the day trips are nothing like an extensive pilgrimage abroad, they are educational, and often include a religious component. “Some people might not be able to go on a pilgrimage, but they can take a day trip with some kind of purpose behind it.”

Destinations include religious sites, such as the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, Mass., which has an extravagant display of Christmas lights and decorations. “I think there’s something like 400,000 lights,” Barry said.

The most recent trip was to Tanglewood, a music venue in western Massachusetts, to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The group has also frequented shopping outlets, a Shaker Village and craft shop in New Hampshire, and a colonial restoration village in Stockbridge, Mass. The travelers have visited wineries, the mansions in Newport, R.I., the Norman Rockwell Museum, and other places of interest in New England. Sometimes, a Tony’s Traveler will suggest a trip.

tony-rAfter Mass, They ‘Hop the Bus’
Many of the trips are on a Sunday, so guests can attend early Mass and “hop on the bus.” Usually 40 to 50 people go, and pay from $60 to $75 for the day.

“We saw a need here,” said Barry, “for trips for non-seniors.” The shrine’s seniors program also runs a busy travel schedule, with about four to five trips a year for older folks.

Barry also likes to be a traveler on his own. He has signed up to be on the list as a cruise chaplain, and as such, travels several times a year with Holland America Cruise Lines.

“I love to travel. It’s important to get away. You need to refresh yourself and take time for yourself, relax and recharge. Vacations give you new experiences,” he said.

Recent cruises have included a trip from Athens to Rome, with a stop in the Holy Land.

As a cruise chaplain, Barry celebrates Mass daily, and once a week for the crew. He also is on call for passengers’ spiritual needs, in case of sickness or other concerns. “One woman wanted to speak to me because her father died while she was on the cruise, and she felt guilty.”

Occasionally, he said, a passenger might want to go to confession, or has another spiritual need. Father Barry is there for them.

— Wendy Healy is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to HNP Today.