Pilgrimage to Ireland seeks to deepen faith, offer wee bit of fun
By Roxanne King
Pilgrimage Information Meeting
Presenter: Timothy Mullner of Faith Journeys
Who: For anyone interested in the DCR-sponsored June 9-18 pilgrimage to the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 14
Where: Mother of God Church, 475 Logan St., Denver
Information: call 303-715-3207 or email email@example.com
Being a pilgrim is the calling of every Christian, according to St. Paul.
He describes us as “strangers and foreigners on the earth” (Heb 11:13). We are pilgrims, mere sojourners here, seeking our heavenly home. Thus, the tradition of making a physical pilgrimage to a sacred site is seen as a symbol for the spiritual journey of the soul.
Perhaps that is why Geoffrey Chaucer could declare in his beloved 14th-century work, “The Canterbury Tales”: “Longen folk to goon pilgrimages” (“People long to go on pilgrimages”).
I know I do. I go on pilgrimage carrying gratitude and special intentions, seeking God’s enlightenment and blessing.
And I’ve received it.
A dozen years ago, when I served as the Denver Catholic Register’s then lone reporter, the newspaper sponsored a pilgrimage to the famed Guadalupe shrine in Mexico City. There, Mary had a message for me.
“Here I will hear their weeping and will answer their prayers,” a fellow pilgrim told me, sharing Mary’s words to St. Juan Diego in 1531—and to me at that moment. My tears stopped. My prayer was answered—and in greater abundance than I had sought.
Pilgrimage is transforming. And the graces received are meant to be shared. Knowing that, it is with great joy and excitement I invite our readers to go on pilgrimage with Bishop James Conley, apostolic administrator for the archdiocese; Msgr. Thomas Fryar, moderator of the curia and pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and the Denver Catholic Register to the 50th International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Dublin next June.
A dynamic experience of the worldwide Church much like World Youth Days, which were actually patterned after International Eucharistic Congresses, they promote the centrality of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church.
“To visit the Catholic country of Ireland with Bishop Conley, Msgr. Fryar and the Denver Catholic Register and participate with the universal Church in the International Eucharistic Congress is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Tess Stone, archdiocesan events coordinator and key local organizer for the trip.
“How blessed are we that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, asks us to reflect on the Eucharistic Lord with others from all over the world and that our bishop would want us to travel with him to do that?” she added. “It’s not something we have the chance to do every day, so why not take advantage of this huge blessing for all the Church?”
Some 25,000 people are expected to attend the congress, noted Timothy Mullner of Faith Journeys, the tour company responsible for the Register’s pilgrimage. Up to 80,000 people are expected to attend the climactic closing Mass, he said, which typically draws the participation of the pope.
“This international gathering is a rare event which occurs every four years,” Mullner explained. “The 2012 IEC also coincides with a historic moment of grace for the Roman Catholic Church—the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
“The very first document promulgated by Vatican II (‘Sacrosanctum Concilium’),” he continued, “highlighted the holy Eucharist as the ‘source and summit’ of our faith. All pastors, deacons, parish leaders and parishioners are invited to Dublin for this faith-filled congress.”
The Register’s 10-day pilgrimage aims to deepen love and reverence for the Eucharist, renew one’s faith and strengthen community—not only among the fellow archdiocesan pilgrims, but with the universal Church.
Let me share a little about what we’ll do.
Set from June 9-18 the pilgrimage will include five days of viewing sacred and historic sites on the beautiful Emerald Isle—among them the Marian apparition site in Knock; the national cathedral, which sits where St. Patrick preached; Trinity College, caretaker of the Book of Kells; and the homes of authors Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker.
Highlights of the gorgeous Irish landscape we’ll see include villages in County Wicklow, the “garden of Ireland’; the stunning Cliffs of Moher on the Atlantic coast, and the bogs, lakes and mountains of Connemara. Architecture we’ll view will range from thatched cottages to ancient abbeys to Dublin Castle.
Three days will be spent taking in the liturgies, catecheses, inspiring testimonies and cultural events of the congress, including the concluding Mass called the Statio Orbis.
“Pope Benedict XVI is expected to attend, but not confirmed at this time,” Mullner said about the closing Mass.
“The special prayer services and Masses along the way (of the pilgrimage),” he emphasized, “will strengthen your relationship with Jesus Christ and deepen your Catholic identity.”
Those interested in learning more about the pilgrimage are invited to a free talk given by Mullner set for 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at Mother of God Church, 475 Logan St. in Denver.
“The talk is for anyone interested in attending the pilgrimage and learning more about the travels as well as about the International Eucharistic Congress and why it’s important we are participating,” Stone said.
The congress should be mutually enriching for both the visiting pilgrims and the host Catholics, organizers said.
“There is a fresh dynamism to the Catholic faith here in Denver,” Bishop Conley said. “When Pope Benedict speaks about the new evangelization, he often applies this term to the old Catholicism of western Europe, such as Ireland. It is my hope that next year’s Eucharistic Congress in Dublin will be the catalyst for a new evangelization for the ‘land of saints and scholars.’”
In turn, American Catholics will enjoy the rich culture and history of Ireland, Mullner said.
“Pilgrims may even find themselves having a ‘wee bit’ of fun along the way,” he said.
The cost of the pilgrimage (with a minimum 25 passengers) including airfare is $3,095 per person (land only price is $2,085). The tour also includes three-star hotel accommodations (double occupancy) eight breakfasts and dinners, all scheduled sightseeing and entrance fees, motorcoach, car ferry across the River Shannon and Eucharistic Congress registration fee (including closing ceremony ticket).
Tour does not include travel insurance and airport taxes/fuel surcharges. Early registration deadline is Dec. 1. Full payment must be received by March 10. For more information, call 303-715-3207 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roxanne King is editor of the Denver Catholic Register.