October ‘Saints, Monks & Beer’ pilgrimage will immerse pilgrims in Catholic culture

Aaron Lambert

The history of Catholicism and beer is a fascinating one, combining a litany of libations with that of the saints and the rich spiritual tradition of the Church.

Those intrigued by any of these things may want to consider partaking in the “Saints, Monks & Beer” pilgrimage Oct. 19 – 29. The pilgrimage is intended to explore the Catholic culture in Belgium and Northern France and will be led by Dr. R. Jared Staudt, Catechetical Formation Specialist for the Archdiocese of Denver. Father John Riley, chaplain for the Augustine Institute, will serve as the chaplain for the pilgrimage.

“I’m aiming for a total immersion in the Catholic tradition, and that’s going to be through art, prayer, the saints, through food and drink, and really experiencing the life of the monks,” Staudt said.

The pilgrimage will also coincide with the release of Staudt’s new book, The Beer Option: A Catholic Guide to Beer and Culture, which is set to be released early October through Angelico Press.

The pilgrimage will begin in Paris and make its way to various parts of France rife with solid ties to the Church, including various cathedrals, churches and places associated with some of France’s great saints, not the least of which is St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Of course, the famous Louvre Museum is also on the itinerary, as well as a night at the Solesmes Benedictine monastery.

From France, pilgrims will make their way to Belgium, which is where the beer lovers on the pilgrimage will truly be satisfied. Pilgrims will visit several different Trappist monasteries throughout Belgium, including Westvleteren Trappist monastery, home of Westvleteren 12 beer (voted the best beer in the world in 2014), and Scourmont Abbey, home of Chimay Beer. Not only will they be able to taste some of these beers directly from the tap, they’ll also be given the chance to pray in the monasteries with the monks.

“The monks created the first large-scale breweries in Europe, and they essentially began brewing beer as we know it today,” Staudt said. “If you look at our brewing process today, the monks perfected that.”

Pilgrims will have the unique opportunity to witness this process firsthand, but it’s also something Staudt explores at length in his new book. Contrary to popular belief, beer has played an integral role in Catholic culture and the history of the Church, and Staudt hopes to enlighten those who thought otherwise and come to a fuller understanding of what it really means to be Catholic. A copy of his new book will be given to each pilgrim, which will serve almost as a supplement to the pilgrimage.

“We’re not just tourists, we’re pilgrims through the culture, and the culture, in an integrated way, will be our guide through the tradition,” Staudt said. “I really would just like to lead Catholics more deeply into Catholic culture.”

To learn more about the pilgrimage, join Dr. Staudt and Father Riley for an evening of Catholic culture at De Steeg Brewing (also the home of Blind Faith Brewing) at 4342 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212 on April 10th at 7 p.m. Come out and support a new Catholic-owned brewery and learn more about how the monks have shaped beer throughout the centuries. Light food will be provided and beer, of course, will be available for purchase.

Saints, Monks & Beer: The Catholic Culture of France and Belgium
Oct. 19 – 29
Cost: $3,678 ($350 nonrefundable deposit due at time of registration)
To register, visit rtijourneys.com or call 303-563-6261

COMING UP: ‘Baptize your son,’ her friend insisted. Now he’s a priest.

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Angela Brown and Maria Delfin were great friends in school and lived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. One day, they decided to make a mutual promise: “When I have my first child, you will be the godmother.”

Years went by, each took their own path and Delfin spent most of their time apart in the United States. In 1987, Brown was expect-ing her first child. Delfin found out and did not forget her promise. “When will you baptize him?” she asked. Yet, Brown hadn’t planned on baptizing her child. She had not even received the sacrament herself.

“When I thought of having Maria be my son’s godmother, I saw it more as a social commitment,” Brown told the Denver Catholic. Nonetheless, after her friend insisted, she decided to baptize her son when he was 17 days old.

After baptism, Delfin moved to the United States permanently and lost touch with Brown and Angel, her godson.

Angel grew up far from the Church, but even then, he reflected a charitable spirit: “He liked to share his toys with other kids so they could play instead of him,” his mother said.

At age 14, he attended a class with the Neocatechumenal Way and he and his mother began a journey of faith. Brown was baptized in the faith and married through the Church. Angel discovered his vocation to the priesthood years later. He studied for two years in the seminary at Santo Domingo and then was assigned to Redemptoris Mater in Denver.

Father Angel Perez-Brown (center) was reunited with his godmother Maria Delfin (right) after 31 years at his ordination May 19. His mother, Angela Brown (left) baptized Father Angel under the insistence of Delfin. (Photo by Andrew Wright )

Meanwhile, Delfin knew nothing of Angel. “I didn’t go to Santo Domingo often. I had no way of getting in touch with him,” she told the Denver Catholic.

When Angel was in the seminary, his mother decided to look for Delfin through social media. Months before Angel’s priestly ordi-nation, Brown found Delfin and told her about her son’s wish: “He wants you to be there when he receives the sacrament.” Delfin didn’t hesitate to fly to Denver.

They met the day prior to ordination, 31 years after Angel’s baptism. She recognized him amid other seminarians and said to him, “I’m your godmother,” and he hugged her.

Father Angel Miguel Perez-Brown was ordained May 19 with four other deacons. His godmother presented the gifts during offer-tory. “I don’t remember feeling as happy as I feel today,” Delfin said after Angel’s ordination.

Father Perez-Brown says her godmother “helped plant this seed,” that is why he wanted her “to witness the fruit she has bore.”

“If she had not influenced my mother, I don’t know where I would be today,” the newly-ordained priest said.

Before Delfin’s return to Orlando, Father Perez-Brown told her, “You already had 30 years of vocation as godmother. Now, please pray for me, because only with prayer will I be a faithful priest.”

Featured image by Anya Semenoff