Legatus’ fall 2018 Mexico and Rome pilgrimages were magnificent excursions for intensifying faith, appreciating salvation history, and reinvigorating the fervor of today’s Ambassadors for Christ – for sharing with family and colleagues for years to come.
Miracle of Guadalupe
The four-day Our Lady of Guadalupe Family Mission Pilgrimage, September 7-10, has greatly increased in popularity. Legatus hosted its largest group yet with over 80 legates, extended families and friends.
Jacksonville members Tom and Glory Sullivan extended heartfelt promotion for the pilgrimage, having taken the trip some 30 times, affected more deeply each time by its spiritual worth. This year it was condensed to a long weekend, enabling more families to participate, as well as the two accompanying chaplains. Fr. Jeremy Davis, SOLT (who runs a school in Mexico for neglected children), and Boston’s Fr. Michael Drea, national chaplain for FOCUS, supported pilgrims with offering daily Mass, along with spiritual counsel and insights.
The group visited the world-famous Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe – the most visited shrine in Christendom. They walked the correlating site at Tepeyac Hill of Our Lady’s 16th-century apparitions to St. Juan Diego (whose tilma still shows her miraculous image, and which is prominently displayed at the Shrine). The tilma holds the world’s only apparition-result which can still be seen.
Pilgrims likewise spent a full day at Girlstown (Chalco, MX), founded by the late Venerable Father Aloysius Schwartz, continued to presentday by the Sisters of Mary. Visiting with the 3,500 underprivileged orphan girls of Childrens Village there has a profound effect. Many American youth could never envision these girls’ lives – especially their love of life – without the up-close experience they get on this pilgrimage.
One young teenager from Ohio, after interacting with the girls, was inspired to organize a new fundraising campaign for them and the Sisters of Mary
In a time resigned to youth leaving the Church, or seeing them as disinterested in Her truths and history, this year’s pilgrimage saw many engaged with great zeal.
“We had more youth on this year’s trip than ever before,” said Glory Sullivan, “and they add a totally different and wholesome dynamic to it.” The Sullivans said that many parents and grandparents bring their young family members on the pilgrimage – to expose them firsthand to the Miracle of Guadalupe, the Shrine, and the charitable work at Girlstown.
“It has literally changed some kids’ lives,” Glory said. “They engage with faith, hope, and charity like never before.” And they return home incredibly transformed in spirit. The 2019 pilgrimage is set for September 6-9.
Eternal City – the Church’s home
From October 5-12, Legatus pilgrims enjoyed an exclusive immersion in the Eternal City – Rome – during its most enjoyable travel season.
A special opening Mass was offered at Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri – the pontifical parish church of the Vatican dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of Mary. Germany’s Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was the main celebrant, concelebrating with Monsignor Joseph Schaedel, Indianapolis Chapter chaplain who led the trip.
A exclusive visit to the Swiss guard barracks was guided by former Swiss guard Dr. Mario Enzler, with his one-of-a-kind insights on living and working for three years among Pope Saint John Paul II’s special protective contingent. Later working as an investment banker, and today as professor of finance at Catholic University of America, he says of that special time with John Paul II, “I served a saint,” whom he believes made him a better man, executive, and leader.
Guided walking tours of Rome’s St. Mary Major, St. Pudenziana, and St. Praxedes Basilicas were taken after a special pasta-making lunch at Passetto Ristorante, one of the city’s most revered restaurants near Piazza Navona, known worldwide for its fresh, authentic regional dishes.
A day trip to the ancient hill town of Orvieto, a few hours north, featured old-town shopping and visits to its famed churches including Mass at Chapel of La Badia di Orvieto, a beautiful 12th-century restored abbey, which today also encompasses an adjacent hotel and restaurant. As Orvieto is also a wine-producing town, pilgrims enjoyed a special local-tasting before a private dinner at La Badia.
After savoring a special lunch with seminarians at the North American College in Rome, pilgrims enjoyed a private evening meeting and reception with the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Callista Gingrich, at the ambassador’s residence in Rome.
A day-long Vatican-vicinity walking tour included Mass in St. Peter’s Crypt, and included small-group Scavi Tours beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, tours of the main Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, the Pantheon, Coliseum, Roman Forum, and other churches throughout Rome. Sites were specially hostguided by well-known Church and art historian Liz Lev. The group even paid a visit to Saint Mother Teresa’s residence in Rome, where they had the opportunity to pray in her cell and attend Adoration with the Sisters of Charity in their convent.
Finally, Legate pilgrims attended a special Wednesday audience with Pope Francis, meeting the Holy Father personally, and having keepsake photos taken with him.
One Legate said, “Just being, existing, and breathing in such holy places — and learning so much more about our faith” made every minute worthwhile.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.