Ministries Welcome Pilgrimage Participants

HNP Communications Around the Province

Autumn may be back-to-school season, but it can also be a time to research and plan future fun and education. Several opportunities exist later this year and next to go on pilgrimages and trips to Franciscan locations and/or travel with other Franciscan-hearted people.

Three Holy Name Province ministries have trips planned, and Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs, a ministry of the Assumption BVM Province in Franklin, Wis., has organized three themed trips for 2014.  People with a sense of adventure who like to learn might also consider having the Midwest-based organization customize a trip for their ministry or group.

Trips to Europe, Canada and Central America
St. Mary Parish in Pompton Lakes, N.J., has arranged a trip to Fatima, Lourdes and Spain. Gonzalo de Jesus Torres-Agosta, OFM, is leading the 11-day pilgrimage that begins on Nov. 5. “There is a wealth of history to be seen and felt in the places we will be visiting and I really look forward to the experience,” he said. Prospective participants are asked to call the parish office at 973-835-0374, or email and request the brochure.

St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, N.C., where Louis Canino, OFM, is director, is taking pilgrims in March 2014 on an Immersion Experience in El Salvador. Interested people are asked to call Ann Bauer, assistant director of the center, at 336-573-3751 for details.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish on Long Beach Island, N.J., where Stephen Kluge, OFM, is pastor, is offering several trips in 2014. They include destinations such as London for a Downton Abbey adventure next April 21 to 27, the Russian waterways from Sept. 7 to 19, 2014 and Canada and New England with an October 2014 cruise. More information and costs can be found on the parish website.

Customized Travel
Traditional pilgrimages can be arranged through Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs, which has offered journeys to religious sites for 40 years, mostly to Italy and the Holy Land. It is directed by Fr. John Cella, OFM, who has taught at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y.

Its new trips on North American saints, and Franciscan solitude, and a Journey into God retreat are planned for July and August 2014. Regular pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land begin as early as next March. In general, the minimum number of pilgrims on these trips is 20 persons, and the maximum 45.

The organization takes groups to Assisi and Rome, the Holy Land, Mexico, Prague, and Ireland, among other countries, and can customize a trip for sabbaticals, youth, leadership programs, the military, retreats, and other themes. Its mission is to provide participants with the “spirituality of place,” allowing a traveler to experience the spirit of those who lived there, according to its website.

Its customized pilgrimages are designed for parishes and other groups such as Franciscan health systems, boards of trustees and church councils, Franciscan schools — including St. Bonaventure University which has offered FPP trips through the years — benefactors and friends, and Secular Franciscans.

More information about  Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs — including registration details — is available on its website online, which offers biographies of the travel leaders and a link to its Facebook page. Most trips can be reserved with a $200 deposit. To speak with a travel agent, call 414-427-0570, or

— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.