All Roads Lead To Rome — 7-10 day pilgrimages to Rome, Italy will feature in-depth tours of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican museums, and the Catacombs. Pilgrims will get the opportunity to connect with the early Christians as they explore the necropolis burial site beneath Vatican Hill on the Vatican Scavi Tour. Art, history, and the heavy, sacred presence of the Catholic Church make Rome the ideal pilgrimage for any young person.
Full Service London is a global service-learning program that provides a multi-cultural experience where young people from Spain, the United States, and Latin America can come together to help others, learn new things about religion and history, and grow in their personal faith. In addition to tours of Parliament, Westminster Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey, the program confronts participants with local needs and provides a unique experience of faith with a human and spiritual dimension.
The Pilgrim Project will defray the cost of pilgrimages for students, ages 16-25 participating in pilgrimages to Fatima Portugal. The 6-day pilgrimages will take students to Lisbon, Fatima, and Sintra Portugal, as well as Salamanca Spain. Students will visit the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, historic Portuguese Castles, and the magnificent city-center of Salamanca.
Organized 4-6 day hikes along the famous Camino de Santiago (“Way of St. James”) will bring young pilgrims into contact with hundreds of other pilgrims from around the world. Each night along “the Way” to the final resting place of St. James in Santiago de Compestella, youth will reside in small villages where worship celebrations, community activities, and spiritual formation meetings take place. Once in Santiago, pilgrims will visit the historic Cathedral of St. James and participate in service work for poor communities.
In 2015, the Pilgrim Project will sponsor pilgrimage opportunities for American youth wishing to pilgrimage to Barcelona, Spain. The week-long excursion will include Mass at the historic Real Monasterio de Santa Isabel and walking tours of the historic “old city” and Gaudi’s magnificent Sagrada Familia Basilica. Additionally, participants will visit the important religious sites of Tibidabo, Montserrat, and Lourdes, France. The trip will feature authentic Spanish cuisine, spiritual discussions, and an abundance of free time for exploration and prayer.
The Pilgrim Project will defray costs related to participation in the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society that takes place in Cracow, Poland. The Seminar features lectures on economics, moral culture, and Catholic social doctrine as students are presented with modern challenges associated with global capitalism, secularization and the family. Moreover, this pilgrimage opportunity includes visits to Czestochowa, Auschwitz, the old Jewish quarter of Cracow, the shrine of St. Faustina, and Wawel Castle and cathedral.
Rome, Italy, is a birthplace. Rome largely represents the early days of the Christian faith, and in many respects, the beginning of the Pilgrim Project itself. During the summer of 2012, I was blessed with the opportunity to live and work in Rome as a law student participating in the Blackstone Legal Fellowship. The opportunity brought me to Rome for the first time, and it opened my eyes to the reality of my Catholic faith.
For two months I pilgrimaged to many of the breath-taking, wondrous places of important religious significance. I explored dozens of historic churches, surveyed the never-ending Vatican Museums, and became lost in the miles of underground Catacombs – tunnels and chambers where the early Christians lived and worshiped in fear of persecution. I knelt before the obelisk at St. Peter's square, on the very grounds where many Christians died in the name of my faith. I celebrated the Eucharist with my family in the underground Clementine Chapel, directly below the St. Peter's Basilica Alter. Here, we worshipped mere feet from St. Peter's buried remains. Travels throughout Rome, and the rest of Italy, brought valuable lessons in faith, sacrifice, and prayer. Every day was inspirational as I enjoyed a much-welcomed breather from the normal stresses of school and work. I was able to refocus my ambitions and fine-tune my spiritual relationship with Christ.
These experiences would not have been possible had it not been for the generous time and talent that many seminarians devoted to me only days after meeting me in Rome. They wanted to share the Church in a way that was real - tangible and visible. My eyes were opened to the Catholic faith in a new way, and I became motivated to make pilgrimages a recurring theme. Additionally, summer pilgrimages in Italy brought best friends from around the world – personal bonds that forever changed my life.
I believe that we, as followers of Christ, are pilgrims and foreigners in the City of Man. We are called to live as strangers in a fallen world. But our hearts remain restless, awaiting the fullness of life in Christ and seeking to be captivated by Him. One of the most beautiful ways of responding to this longing for the Lord’s presence is to embark on a pilgrimage.
A pilgrimage is a symbol of the Christian life in action; an earthly journey, guided by grace, that draws us into a new life with Christ in the City of God. By treading in the footsteps of the believers who have come before us, we participate in the rich tradition of our Christian heritage, and we are strengthened by the community of the faithful who walk with us, and by all those who have walked before us.
Although we may lose our way from time to time during our journey here on earth, a pilgrimage inspires us to realign our lives with the Lord’s will, so that we can more fully respond to the universal call to holiness and live our lives as one unbroken gaze upon the face of God.
During the summer between my two years of graduate school, I was blessed to participate in the Tertio Millennio seminar program in Krakow, Poland. Drawing together American and Eastern European students, the seminar focused on now-Saint Pope John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, and explored the tension between our contemporary cultural climate and the Church’s social teaching. In addition to extended and rewarding conversation, the seminar included visits to Auschwitz, the Shrine of Saint Faustina, Częstochowa and the Jasna Gora monastery, and a walking tour that explored Karol Woytyla’s early life in Krakow.
Even as the robust discussions of faithful resistance to secularism and destructive ideologies transformed my thinking, it was the excursions that provided an incomparable encounter with the reality of sacrificial love. Standing in the Auschwitz cell where Saint Maximilian Kolbe was martyred, witnessing the Black Madonna and the evidence of her miraculous healings, touching the doors of the small, humble church where then-Father Woytyla said his first Mass; such experiences inevitably instill a dynamic openness to God, His love, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The two weeks I spent in Poland magnified and enlivened the reality of God’s presence in my life, drawing me closer to Christ and shaping my spiritual journey in a powerful and permanent way. Seminars and pilgrimages like these not only offer students a singular opportunity to have a living experience of God, they also challenge the students who participate to carry those transformative lessons forward.