Bon voyage, pilgrims! Meet some of the 40 local travelers
CHARLOTTE — May 2 was an exciting day for the more than 40 pilgrims from the Diocese of Charlotte and the Archdiocese of Atlanta who teamed up for a trip to Rome to join their respective bishops, Peter Jugis and Archbishop Wilton Gregory on their ad limina visit to the Eternal City May 6 - 12.
The pilgrims from Charlotte were at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport by mid-morning, exchanging hugs with one another in joyful anticipation of the 10-day pilgrimage which will take them 5,000 miles from home.
Some of them are veteran international travelers, like Deacon Carlos Medina and his wife, Martha. In fact, Martha came so prepared that she had extra travel items like sleep masks and earplugs to share with those who had forgotten to pack them.
Pictured: Some of the pilgrims celebrate Mass at Chiesa Nuvoa in Assisi May 3. Photo by SueAnn Howell.
Deacon Robert Murphy and his wife, Angeles, are also accustomed to the rigors of sleep deprivation from changing time zones and the ins and outs of electronics in what can be a confusing conversion system.
The "official" tour director for the pilgrimage is Father Christopher Roux, rector of St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte.
He greeted pilgrims as they arrived at the airport and as any good tour director does, shepherded them through the maze of the unfamiliar airport in Philadelphia when they had to change plans for the flight to Rome.
Father Roux was particularly noticeable inside the very busy terminal as he was carrying a large brown case containing the crosier the Bishop of Charlotte uses, which features the image of the Lamb of God. The crosier is in need of repair, so Father Roux is transporting it to a shop in Italy that specializes in fine religious items.
There are a total of three priests on the pilgrimage. Father John Eckert, parochial vicar of Our Lady of Grace in Greensboro and Father Michael Silloway of the Archdiocese of Atlanta are assisting Father Roux by rotating the responsibility as main celebrant at daily Mass on specific days.
Father Eckert is traveling with his mother, Cheryl, and his aunt Carol. Both he and his mother are going to Rome for the first time.
Father Silloway studied at the North American College in Rome for five years and is looking forward to going back to visit friends and enjoy all that Italy has to offer. He is especially looking forward to visiting a small church in Assisi, where he spent time in prayer when he was in a month-long Italian language immersion program in 1996.
"There is this little, tiny church where they think St. Francis played as a child," said Father Silloway. "It's called San Stefano...it's the most humble church you can imagine. There is no decoration inside; just stones built up on stones, holds maybe 20 people.
Every day I would go down into that church and have my time with the Lord...it captures the spirit of Francis for me there."
Adrienne, a parishioner from St. Gabriel's Church in Charlotte is thankful to have the opportunity to join the group, as she signed on to the tour late and wasn't sure she would be allowed to join the pilgrimage. It's her first time traveling to Italy and her excitement is palpable.
"I'm so excited! The trip was totally closed but I begged, I pleaded," she said.
"I think for anybody that is Catholic, Rome is our spiritual home. My family is from Siena, so I get to see where my family is from...St. Francis is one of my favorite saints. There is such wonder and joy on this trip."
After an overnight trip to Rome, the pilgrims boarded a bus for the three-hour drive to Assisi where they will spend the next two days.
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
Judiciary Committee approval moves immigration bill on to full SenateWASHINGTON, D.C. — Advocates for comprehensive immigration reform expressed optimism and hope for a law to pass this summer after the Senate Judiciary Committee May 21 finished wading through 300 proposed amendments -- accepting about a third...
Court to hear case on constitutionality of prayers at public meetingsROCHESTER, N.Y. — The U.S. Supreme Court in the fall will hear oral arguments in a case from upstate New York about the practice of praying at open public meetings. One of the questions the high court may consider is what steps a municipality...
Majority of priests in new survey dislike Roman Missal translationWASHINGTON, D.C. — A majority of U.S. priests said they dislike the translation of the Roman Missal introduced at Advent 2011, a new survey found. Overall, 59 percent of responding priests said they disliked the new English translation of...