Pope Francis wants you and your family in Ireland

Denver’s Religious Travel International offers pilgrimage to World Meeting of Families 2018

Beauty, faith, joy, culture and Jesus will all be present at the World Meeting of Families this Aug. 18-27 in Dublin, Ireland – and Pope Francis wants you to be there.

The event will celebrate the family as the cornerstone of our lives, society and the Church, with the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.” The pope will join thousands of other families from around the world for the event.

“The pope is trying to give families some pragmatic ways to live their vocation as a family in society,” said John Magee, vice president of Religious Travel International based in Denver. “I think that if families can come away from the race of life to be able to pray together and experience the Universal Church and the message of this WMOF, they will see great fruits.”

RTI provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for families who would like to attend. It’s organizing not only a trip, but a pilgrimage that seeks to make the experience truly transforming for the whole family, through faith and history.

“We do everything in our hands to prepare a meaningful journey to add to the spiritual life of the person,” said Jane Luzietti, owner and managing director of RTI. “Many people hold back from these opportunities because sometimes they don’t know what comes out of a pilgrimage. [But] the Spirit works on these journeys. We’ve had great testimonies from people in the past.”

The conference will consist of a program of workshops, talks and discussions for adults; an engaging program for young people and fun activities for children – not to mention the festivals, exhibitions and charitable activities that will be available for families.

Other than providing a faith-filled trip through the WMOF and daily Masses, the pilgrimage will include trips to explore the beauty of creation and learn about the historical richness of Ireland.

“Many people trace their ancestry to Ireland and perhaps have never been or explored Ireland within the context of their faith,” Magee said. “Especially for them to be able to do that in a multigenerational way is an incredible thing to offer [to their children and parents].”

The group’s stay in Dublin will be at the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge, one of the finest in the city and located within walking distance of the conference center.

This privilege will allow families the space and freedom to embrace the message of the conference while being able to attend to the needs of their children and spend time together, Magee said.

Luzietti hopes to have representation from a variety of parishes in Denver and encourages parents to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity: “Being as a family is a big part of the conference. It shows your children that faith is important to you. Sometimes families don’t talk about the faith as much as they could.”

To contact RTI with any questions or to register by April 15, visit rtijourneys.com.

What:                 World Meeting of Families pilgrimage

When:                 Aug. 18-27, 2018

Where:                Dublin, Ireland

Cost:                    $4,142 (based on double occupancy)

Register:              rtijourneys.com

Deadline:             April 15

COMING UP: Carmelite lived the cloistered life ‘to the full’

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In 1950, at the ripe age of 18, Sister Mona Claire of Our Lady entered religious life as a Carmelite of the Holy Spirit. For the next 67 years, she went on to live a cloistered life away from the world in deep prayer.

It would seem it was no coincidence, then, that she passed away on May 20 — the feast of Pentecost.

“For her to die on the feast of Pentecost — it’s our biggest solemnity next to Christmas because we’re the Carmel of the Holy Spirit,” said Mother Mary of Jesus, prioress of the discalced Carmelite nuns of Littleton. “Our blessed Lord really favored her, I think.”

Over 20 of Sister Mona’s 67 years as a Carmelite were spent as a secretary answering phone calls and responding to requests for prayers and Mass offerings. Sister Mona was also a talented seamstress and spent much of her time making clothes for the Sisters and altar linens.

Sister Mona’s most unique job was perhaps taking care of sheep, which the monastery had up until the 1980s, and her most beautiful work was likely her profound prayer life.

“She always prayed,” said Mother Mary. “Even in her last few days, if she said anything, it was a prayer.”

Mother Mary recalled that the doctor who attended to Sister Mona at the hospital after she experienced a fall shortly before she passed asked her to open her eyes, and she was unable to follow his commands.

“But I would say a prayer, and she’d finish it for me,” said Mother Mary. “I would say, ‘Praise be Jesus Christ,’ and she would say, ‘Now and forever.’ I think her last words were ‘Now and forever.’”

Mother Mary admired Sister Mona for her patience and efforts to please God, as well as her positive attitude in all circumstances.

“I noticed that even in the pain she was in when she was dying, she never moaned or anything,” said Mother Mary. “She never complained one little bit.”

Mother Mary believes it was a blessing that Sister Mona was able to remain so close to God even during her final days — a grace that likely stemmed from the consistent efforts she made to be close to him throughout her life.

“If you’re constantly corresponding with grace and praying, it’s going to come to you in those last moments,” said Mother Mary. “It will strengthen you for the journey. I think that’s what happened.”

Mother Mary witnessed graces showering down during on Sister Mona even during her funeral, particularly when Bishop Jorge Rodriguez blessed her coffin before it was lowered into the ground.

“There were turtle doves. You could hear turtle doves cooing,” not back and forth, but in unison, Mother Mary said. It reminded those in attendance of Song of Solomon 2, which mentions the voice of a turtledove in a chapter about the love of a bride groom.

The beauty of the moment didn’t go unnoticed, much like Sister Mona’s life of service.

“She was the loving and praying heart of the Church and the Carmel [community] here for almost 68 years,” said Mother Mary. “Everything she did was for souls and for our dear Lord’s greater glory and honor,” she said.

Mother Mary believes Sister Mona had a profound impact on the world, even though she had little contact with it.

“Having been in the convent as long as she was, she really impacted the diocese and the world with her ever-flowing prayers,” said Mother Mary. “It’s just the nature of cloistered life — and she lived it to the full.”