Pilgrimage to Rome to witness canonization of Blesseds John Paul II, John XXIII still open

“A pilgrimage is a prayer.”

So said Sister Esther Mary Nickel, R.S.M., speaking about an April 25-May 3, 2014, journey to Rome co-sponsored by the Denver Archdiocese and its newspapers—the Denver Catholic Register and El Pueblo Católico—to witness the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II.

“Pilgrimage in itself, like the procession in the Mass, is symbolic of our return to heaven,” Sister Nickel told the Denver Catholic Register. “So when we make a pilgrimage, for example, to the canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII, the significance is that we long for the day when we’ll be in heaven as well.”

Faithful are invited to go on pilgrimage to this historic Church moment that will take place in Vatican City April 27, 2014.

“To gather in the heart of the Church to witness the proclamation in Latin by the pontiff—the bold proclamation that this person is in heaven—is huge,” Sister Nickel said. “You’re one of the ‘cloud of witnesses’ of the Church.”

An associate professor of sacred liturgy and sacramental theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Sister Nickel attended several beatifications and canonizations during her 10 years studying liturgy at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm in Rome.

“It’s always very profound,” she said. “Having been (to canonizations) a number of times, there’s a movement of the Holy Spirit that is just known in the community.”

Pontiffs and places

Pope John XXIII, known as “Good Pope John,” convened the Second Vatican Council; Pope John Paul II, called “John Paul the Great,” was largely responsible for implementing it. Both were instrumental in bringing about the “new evangelization” in which the Church proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ with “new … ardor, methods and expression.”

Pope Francis contributed to this call in his recent apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel.” The pope will make the canonization proclamations.

In addition to attending the canonization, which is expected to take place in St. Peter’s Square, pilgrims will have daily Mass and will visit sacred and historic sites in Rome and Assisi.

Sacred sites pilgrims will visit include St. Peter’s Basilica, the heart of the Roman Catholic Church built above the crypt of St. Peter and home to the tomb of John Paul II and the incorrupt body of John XXIII, as well as visits to the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, the major basilicas of Rome and the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi where the founder of the Franciscan order is interred. Historic sites to be visited include the oldest road from Roman times—the Appian Way—the Roman Forum and Colosseum, the Pantheon and the catacombs where the early Christians hid. A general audience with Pope Francis, if he is available, is also planned.

Saints and hope

Msgr. Bob Amundsen, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Lafayette, will serve as spiritual director on the trip. Msgr. Amundsen studied at North American College in Rome and has led pilgrimages to Rome, the Holy Land and Lourdes, France.

“I hope that those who go (on the pilgrimage) will be able to experience the goodness of the men who are being canonized as well as the charism of Pope Francis,” he said.

Both he and Sister Nickel said the journey will offer a strong experience of the universal Church.

“I think all of Poland will be there,” Sister Nickel joked, referring to the zeal of Pope John Paul II’s compatriots.

The enthusiasm of the faithful who attend a canonization is palpable and deeply significant, she said.

“When the Church canonizes and says with certainty someone is in heaven, that gives us hope,” she said, “and that person is an intercessor for us. We depend on the saints to intercede for us as we struggle through the day-to-day joys and sorrows of life.”

Christ’s call

The call to pilgrimage, Sister Nickel added, comes from Jesus Christ himself that one may encounter him and, as Pope Francis notes in his apostolic exhortation, be impelled to joyfully share that encounter.

“The Lord is drawing the person,” she said, “and through this experience of the Church, of Jesus Christ, the person can then make the Lord known to others.”

Those interested in making the pilgrimage should register quickly as space is limited. Cost is $3,695 per person (land only cost $2,495). An optional one-day trip to Naples and Pompeii is an additional $85 per person.

For more information, or to register, call Faith Journey’s at 1-877-732-4845, ext. 100, or email info@myfaithjourneys.com.

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.