Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Our Lady of Fatima Parish organizing twin pilgrimages to Italy
by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff
(From the Dec. 15, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
When Spokane’s Our Lady of Fatima Parish began looking forward to the opening and dedication of its new church about 10 months ago, members of the parish youth group suggested that there should be a special way for Fatima’s youth to celebrate the new church, too. Youth Minister Dan Glatt asked the young people what they would like to do, and someone, in a rather offhand, “I-don’t-expect-to-be-taken-seriously” tone of voice, suggested a pilgrimage to Rome and other sacred sites in Italy.
“Why not?” was Dan Glatt’s response, and before long plans for just such a pilgrimage were underway.
When the youth group’s plans became known, pastor Father Jim Kuhns said, “We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the parish in 2006, so why not have an adult pilgrimage, too?”
The youth group will travel from June 17 to June 26, 2006. The adult group will travel from June 20 to June 30, 2006. The two groups will meet just prior to the youth group’s departure for home, and Father Kuhns will spend time with both groups. Father Joe Weitensteiner might also travel with the adult group.
“We started looking at companies that offer international travel,” Glatt said, “and Catholic Travel Centre, in Burbank, Calif., was they only one that kept coming back to us asking, ‘What do you want to do?’ All the other packages we looked into were pre-planned, this-is-what-you-get, no deviations allowed.
“As I talked with the kids, I asked them, ‘What do you want?’ and one of the things that became evident was that they weren’t interested in going to a dozen cathedrals. They wanted to really understand more of what a real pilgrimage is about. Going to Assisi was important to them, and of course Rome. The other place that they really wanted to see is Pompeii, just because they’ve heard about it.
“So Catholic Travel said, ‘Good, no problem.’ Scott, the president of Catholic Travel, is a former parish youth minister, and he said, ‘Okay, let’s spend at least two or three days in Assisi, so the kids can really appreciate what St. Francis was doing. Then we can do a nice time in Rome with more of the historical places that would be of more interest to a teenager.’ So that’s how we put that package together for the teens.”
The price for each teen who makes the pilgrimage trip is $2,900, which includes all airline and hotel expenses, plus most morning and evening meals, the cost of the tour guide, and all taxes and gratuities.
“We worked hard to keep the price as low as we could,” said Glatt. “Obviously, the euro has really affected this, otherwise we probably could have set the price a couple of hundred dollars lower.”
The youth and adults traveling with them will stay not in regular hotels; instead, they will stay in accommodations offered by Religious orders, which function rather like a bed-and-breakfast. “The one we’re booked for in Rome overlooks the Vatican,” Dan Glatt said. “The idea is to focus on topics we’ve talked with the students about, and now we’ll be showing it to them for real.”
The itinerary for the youth group’s pilgrimage includes Assisi, Orvieto, Naples, Pompeii, and Florence. Stops in Rome include a papal audience, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter Basilica, and the Catacombs of St. Calixtus.
Forty positions are open for the youth group, adult chaperones included. As soon as all the positions are taken, Glatt said that the youth group will meet to discuss fund-raisers. One possibility being discussed is a concert by Catholic musician Tony Melendez sometime in March or April.
The adult group’s trip will include staying at 4-star hotels, so the price will be about $500 higher. Their itinerary includes Florence, optional excursions to Venice or Florence, and Assisi. Options in Rome itself include the Vatican Museum, the city’s major basilicas, Mass at St. Peter Basilica, and the catacombs.
A few positions are still open in both the youth and adult pilgrimages, and people from other parishes are welcome. For example, several youth and adults from Spokane’s St. Francis of Assisi Parish have already expressed interest. “If we don’t fill all the positions on each tour,” Glatt said, “that will increase the price for everyone else. So we encourage both teens and adults to call.”
Anyone interested may phone the parish office at Our Lady of Fatima: 747-7213.