The Denver Archdiocese and its newspapers, the Denver Catholic Register and El Pueblo Católico, are co-sponsoring an April 25-May 3 pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi for the canonization of Blessed Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. Last week, the Register interviewed Timothy Mullner, director of program development for Faith Journeys, which is organizing the trip.
Q: Tell me about the sites pilgrims will be visiting on this canonization pilgrimage, what are the stand-outs?
A: I completed one of my doctoral residencies in Roma, so the “Eternal City” holds a special place in my heart. Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Denver will return saying, “Roma, Roma, non basta una vita!” (“Rome, Rome, one lifetime is not enough!”) The itinerary we have created is one highlight after another starting with the canonization of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. I recall being amazed at previous papal Masses hearing fellow Christians praying in four, five, or six different languages and then a shiver down my spine as our Holy Father extended his arms in blessing those gathered.
Other highlights will include Assisi and the chance to pray in the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare, along with a guided tour of Imperial Rome to view the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon and more. The general audience with Pope Francis will be another special moment of grace as we continue to pray for a new evangelization around the world. And on top of that, we will experience the rich history and art of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and the major basilicas of Rome. We’ve even built in the option of an entire day of leisure and prayer in Roma or an excursion (additional cost) to Naples and Pompei. We will come away with a deeper appreciation for our Catholic identity and the invitation to be good stewards of God’s gracious gifts in our lives.
Q: What is the historical significance of this particular pilgrimage to the canonization of two modern-day popes?
A: Blessed Pope John XXIII called history “the great teacher of life,” and we have lots to learn from this historic moment of grace in our Church. On this faith journey, pilgrims will experience (in Pope Francis) the first pope from outside Europe, the first from South America, the first Jesuit pontiff and the first pontiff to choose the name of the beloved “Saint of Assisi”! And consider the unprecedented blessing of two popes being canonized at the same time. We will truly be watching the Holy Spirit in action as history is made before our eyes! Like our Blessed Mother, Mary, we will ponder all these things in our hearts (Luke 2:19) as we return home to make a difference in our local communities.
Q: What is special about this particular pilgrimage?
A: We have just concluded a “Year of Faith.” This pilgrimage is a rare opportunity to make catechesis a “real world” experience of faith formation and ongoing conversion. We will learn about the pillars of our faith: creed, liturgy, morality and prayer by walking in the footsteps of the early Church and the saints who invite all of us to follow Jesus Christ. It’s a chance to go deeper in our relationship with Christ and the Church by joining pilgrims from around the world. I can’t think of a more special opportunity.
Q: Speak to the spiritual value of pilgrimage, which is an ancient tradition in the Church.
A: Our entire lives, from birth to death, are a pilgrimage—a holy journey to intimacy with our God. Spirituality is our response to God’s call (vocare) and the way we live our faith every day. By visiting these holy sites, we are making our Catholic faith a priority and witnessing to that truth. And when luggage and airlines are involved, each day is a chance to “Be still and know that I’m not God!” On this journey to Italia we are not tourists, we are pilgrims seeking to practice (praxis) what we preach and teach by the way we treat each other and surrender all that we are to God.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: Every pilgrimage is a chance to practice radical hospitality. Any time we put our lives in a suitcase and travel, we are presented with numerous ways to serve others: lending a hand with luggage, deferring to others in a long TSA (Transportation Security Administration) line, praying for special intentions, or simply greeting others with a smile. Having the mind and heart of a pilgrim will move us from being tourists to being evangelizers and good news to those we meet on this faith journey. Buon viaggio! (Good journey!)
Those interested in making the pilgrimage should register quickly as space is limited. Registration deadline is Jan. 25. Cost is $3,695 per person (land only cost $2,495). Optional one-day trip to Naples and Pompeii is an additional $85 per person. For more information, or to register, call Faith Journeys at 1-877-732-4845, ext. 100, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When: April 25-May 3
Where: Rome and Assisi for canonization of Blesseds John Paul II and John XXIII
Information: call 1-877-732-4845, ext. 100, or email email@example.com