Sunday, June 1, 2008
Saying Goodbye to the Pilgrimage and Hello to the Journey
Vatican (St Peter's Basilica, Square and Church) Rome Italy
Well today is the last full day in Rome for our Franciscan pilgrims. Our school has participated in the AFCU and Franciscan Pilgrimage program for a number of years. We have sent pilgrims with the leadership program in the fall, the faculty and staff program in early summer and the student programs in the winter. This opportunity to walk and live where the saints walked and lived, to worship at Sacred sites including the Vatican and to share with one another has to be having a powerful effect on our ability to integrate our Franciscan Spiritual and Intellectual Traditions into the fabric of our campus life.
Today the pilgrims will join the crowd at St. Peter’s Square praying the Angelus with Pope Benedict XVI. I am excited for them.
When we were in Rome the Pope was in Poland on Wed., the day of his audiences. The rest of the week youth groups and religious from around the world streamed in and out of the Papal Apartments waving flags, playing musical instruments, singing and shouting “Viva Papa”! We never saw him but his influence was very real. At night we would walk through the square and his apartment light was on late into the night, he is a busy man!
Our pilgrims will also go to St. Paul outside the Walls. We never visited there either. I think the fact that so much of the pilgrimage each year is the same and yet there are significant difference helps us grow. We share our common experiences. However, out of curiosity we are compelled talk and share about the experiences that make each year different and unique. We just keep learning from one another. I cannot wait to hear about their last day experiences.
Our pilgrims have already said Farwell to Assisi. That is the hardest part of the trip. Tomorrow they will say farewell to Rome and Italy. They will be a little sad but oh so happy to have so much to share. I will say farewell to our pilgrims and their time in Italy and “welcome home”. Then pilgrims, when things calms down, download your photos, get on your computer, write up your favorite or most powerful experiences and share them on the blog with the rest of us.
Welcome home pilgrims.