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: Denver mayor surprises Catholic school students for Black History Month presentation

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On Monday, February 24, Christ the King Roman Catholic School in Denver held their first Black History Month celebration, and among the special guests was the Denver’s own Mayor Michael Hancock.

The celebration began with the surprise visit of Mayor Hancock, who addressed the students and spoke about the importance of the African American community in our society and remembered those who have made history and impacted our lives.

“I want us all to remember very clearly that this world, our society, has been created by so many people of different colors, races, religions, and we all depend on one another,” Mayor Hancock told the crowd. “Even when we don’t think about it, we’re depending on the inventions and discoveries of people who don’t look like us…Black history Month should also be about celebrating the cultures of history of all people that made this society great.”

After the Mayor’s speech, Kateri Williams, Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry at the Archdiocese of Denver shared her testimony about how she was born and raised Catholic and the impact her faith has had throughout her life.

Mayor Michael Hancock surprised students at Christ the King Catholic School, in Denver Feb. 24 during a presentation on Black History Month. (Photos by Brandon Ortega)

“It’s important that we don’t celebrate in just the month of February or Black Catholic History Month in November, but throughout the entire year,” Williams said. “It’s also important to remember, as Pope Francis has shared, that unity and diversity is something we should have a joyful celebration about. It’s not our differences that we should be focused on, but our unity in our Lord Jesus Christ, that brings us all together and we should bring all of those gifts from all of our ethnic communities together as the one universal Catholic Church.”

As part of the Black History Month celebration at Christ The King, the school held several events during the entire week of February 24, including a basketball game to honor the athlete Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were killed with seven others in a helicopter accident back in January. Before the fatal crash, Bryant, a Catholic, was seen praying at his local parish.

“The purpose is to bring focus to the contribution that the Catholic Church has [had] with black history,” said Sandra Moss, Teachers and Preschool Assistant at Christ the King Catholic School. “I want students to know Black history is American history. It’s not just about the color of your skin. It’s not about the negativity that is occurring everywhere in the world. I wanted them to see the good side of it… Black history is American history.”