Pilgrimages to France, Italy Welcome Participants

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

Photo courtesy of Moyan Brenn/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Moyan Brenn/Flickr

Two trips that promise visits to historic and religious sites in Europe later this year are open to all interested travelers — friars and laypeople. St. Anthony Shrine in Boston is offering a pilgrimage in September to shrines in France, and Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, N.C., is welcoming travelers to participate in a journey through Italy.

The France pilgrimage, scheduled for Sept. 1 to 10, will include visits to Chartres, Lisieux, Lourdes, Lyon, Paris and Rouen. Participants will depart the United States from Boston Logan International Airport.

“The main focus of the pilgrimage will be the Holy Spirit of God working in you, inspiring you to a deeper commitment to prayer and service to others as you visit the sacred shrines of France,” said Raphael Bonanno, OFM, who is leading the tour. “The highlight of our journey is Lourdes, a place of ‘indescribable beauty’ known for its prayer and healing.

“While in Paris, we will have the opportunity to pray in some of France’s most beautiful shrines. On the Rue de Bac, we will visit the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal, with a nearby stop at the Shrine of St. Vincent de Paul, followed by the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral,” said Raphael, who is stationed at St. Anthony Shrine. Details about the trip, including costs and registration deadlines, can be obtained through Peter’s Way Tours, reachable at 800-225-7662 and through peter@petersway.com.

Raphael is an experienced pilgrimage and travel guide. Last summer, he led a trip to China.

Friars and laypeople interested in visiting Italy are invited to register for Immaculate Conception Parish’s nine-day pilgrimage. The group will depart from Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Oct. 29 and return on Nov. 6.

Participants “will see, walk and pray at the same locations where St. Francis and St. Clare and many others before us came closer to God,” said Christopher VanHaight, OFM, the pilgrimage’s leader and spiritual director, in an informational document on the parish website. Cities and towns that the pilgrims will visit are Assisi, Greccio, La Verna and Rome.

“This is a very special year for the universal Church,” said Christopher, pastor of Immaculate Conception. “I would like to take this time to personally invite you, your relatives and friends to join us on our special trip to Italy’s greatest cities and special places dear to Christian hearts.”

“His Holiness Pope Francis announced the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy to highlight the Catholic Church’s mission to be a witness of mercy,” continued Christopher. “Our pilgrimage will include walking through the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica.”

Information about this trip is also available on the website of Peter’s Way Tours, the agency organizing the pilgrimages.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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