Experience Ireland for its Catholic and natural splendor this fall

Picture yourself contemplating the endless sea from the Cliffs of Moher, praying with Benedictine Monks for the sanctification of priests, or visiting the Knock Shrine, where in 1879, a group of 15 people witnessed an apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist.

These are just a few strokes from the transforming experience the pilgrimage to Ireland “The Beauty of Faith” promises to have Sep. 14-23.

Led by Dr. R. Jared Staudt, Director of Formation for the Archdiocese of Denver, and accompanied by Father Brad Noonan, Pastor at St. Francis of Assisi in Castle Rock, who will serve as the trip’s spiritual director; the inspiring journey will follow in the footsteps of ancient monks and modern saints, immersing the faithful into the beauty and rich Catholic tradition of Ireland.

An info session will be held at Blind Faith Brewing in Littleton (formerly St. Patrick’s Brewery) March 24 at 4 p.m.

“It’s an integrated and transformative experience of Catholic culture that will be inspired by the different types of beauty we will encounter,” Dr. Staudt said.

Ireland is quickly turning away from the traditions that for centuries have stood as her foundation. In this context, Dr. Staudt’s pilgrimage will uncover “the amazing legacy of faith that Ireland has” coupled with the natural beauty it radiates.

“Ireland is a very beautiful country. We will be experiencing the great natural beauty of Ireland, especially the Western coast where the Cliffs of Moher are,” he said. “But I would say that the monastery of Clonmacnoise embodies both [types of beauty] … [It] is an example of how faith beautifully meshes with the natural environment.”

Besides providing a space for a spiritual encounter, the journey will highlight the inspiring efforts of evangelization led by ancient monks, such as St. Kevin, and modern witnesses, such as Blessed John Henry Newman and Venerable Matt Talbot.

“Visiting the apparition site of Our Lady at Knock Shrine will also help us see how Our Lord and Our Lady want us to respond in faith and prayer right now for the conversion and renewal of culture. We have this heritage, but how do we apply it? Our Lady’s apparition is an example of that.”

Among the dozens of sights Dr. Staudt’s pilgrimage to Ireland will visit, the intriguing stop at Silverstream Priory, where the Benedictines are dedicated to Eucharistic adoration for the renewal of priests, promises to be unique.

In his extensive experience of leading pilgrimages that immerse the faithful into Catholic culture, Dr. Staudt deeply values the aspect of community that develops among the pilgrims.

“The wonderful group dynamic, growing together as a group, worshiping together as a group and establishing friendships and supporting one another as we experience the beauty and the tradition was what [has] struck me most profoundly,” he concluded. “It’s a great transformative experience.”

Pilgrimage info session

Blind Faith Brewing in Littleton

March 24, 4 p.m.

Visit rtijourneys.com for more information

COMING UP: Adopt-a-Student program changes family’s life

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When Colin and Maria Coleman moved to the United States, they were certain of one thing.

“We really wanted our child to attend a Catholic school,” said Maria, “but found the cost of tuition beyond our financial means.”

When the family heard about the Seeds of Hope Adopt-a-Student program through St. Catherine of Siena Parish, they decided to apply for their son Justin.

“As practicing Catholics, we see it as vital to pass on a Christ-centered education to our children,” said Colin.

The Colemans put their Catholic faith at the forefront of their lives. Maria is a teacher and Colin is a deacon, both at St. Catherine of Siena. Justin is a sixth grader at the parish school.

“The scholarship is of great importance because, as a missionary family, we work on a very tight budget,” said Colin.

Justin was accepted into the Adopt-a-Student program, which pairs a scholarship donor with a student who, with the financial help, is able to attend Catholic school.

“I feel happy to know someone cares about me and my education,” said Justin.

Through the program, Justin has been able to meet his sponsor and he keeps in touch by sending cards during Christmas and Easter.

The generosity of a donor isn’t lost on students like Justin, who are eager to grow in faith and virtue at the school they love.

“Going to St. Catherine’s has helped my faith life because I get to attend Mass twice a week, sometimes the [priests] have come into class to teach us about God, [and] my teachers also share their faith with me,” said Justin.

Justin is grateful for the faith-filled experiences he’s had, including reenacting the Stations of the Cross and reading the Gospel at school Masses.

“All of these are things I would only have experienced at a Catholic school,” he said.

Colin and Maria are grateful for how welcomed they’ve felt at St. Catherine since moving to the United States.

“It has been and continues to be such a privilege to be so connected to St. Catherine’s,” said Maria. “Our extended family is all in New Zealand, so St. Catherine’s is really a big part of our USA family, as well as the Community of the Beatitudes that we are members of.”

Justin’s scholarship is another key reason for their gratitude.

“We are tremendously grateful to our donor who provides Justin’s scholarship,” said Maria. “We keep Justin’s donor in our prayers and give thanks to God for his wonderful providence.”

Colin agreed.

“I think it is a great witness that someone has taken a personal interest to help in a child’s education,” he said.