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Special Pilgrimage for Priests to the Holy Land Led by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

Despite all the troubling news out there, we know that the vast majority of our priests are caring, and faithful to the Magisterium, but also……overworked.  We forget how much is demanded of them daily, and that they–perhaps more than anyone–need a break from time to time.

Well, we have found an incredible solution…a pilgrimage to the Holy Land…….. especially designed for priests!  And what makes it even more special, it’s led by Cardinal Raymond L. Burke.

The cost is around $2800 per person…a bit expensive on a priest’s salary (if he even gets one) but a few parishioners ( or just one) could easily pay for their priest to travel on this meaningful and rewarding pilgrimage.  This would make a great thank-you gift for all that they do.

For more details on this pilgrimage for priests to the Holy Land click here.

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What do you mean no refund? How do I get home?

It doesn’t happen often, but if it happens to you then once is enough to cost you hundreds…or even thousands of dollars. Not to mention the possible loss of time….either on vacation when you can’t get back home on schedule or prior to departing while you look for another option.

On March 27, 2019 discount carrier WOW Air suddenly discontinued operations.

WOW Air offered flights to Europe, North America and Tel Aviv through its hub in Reykjavik, Iceland.

No warning, no notice whatsoever.  People waiting in line for flights suddenly found that their flight status went from “delayed” to ” cancelled”.

Bad enough if they were heading out of town…a trip back to the house would be necessary.  But for those already out of town…and in most cases out of their home country….this meant finding a hotel room, then booking a flight on another airline (last-minute tickets are very expensive) and hoping you can get a seat.

Some airlines are offering “rescue fares” reduced prices for tickets….but you still probably aren’t getting money back from WOW Air, and even rescue fares are not cheap.  You might, however, get your money back it you happened to take out travel insurance.

It is not the first time this has happened…..and probably won’t be the last (there have been six already this year).  Most of these were either small carriers or discount carriers…but if you lose money it won’t matter what size the airline was.

That is one of the reasons that we recommend travel insurance and urge you to read our page all about travel insurance. It can help you protect you and save you money.

If you are currently booked on WOW Air, here are your options.


We worry so you don't have to.

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The Oberammergau Passion Play is only a year away, better sign up now

 

If you are planning to attend the world-famous Oberammergau Passion Play, you had better make your arrangements sooner rather than later.  Tickets went on sale beginning March 6, 2019 (Ash Wednesday) and they sell out quickly.

Crucifixion scene from the Oberammergau Passion PlayEvery 10 years, the small town of Oberammergau, in Bavaria, is transformed as the village performs the scene of the Passion of Our Lord. Almost all the residents of the town (about 2200) are involved in the production and performance of this play, and roles are often handed down from generation to generation.  And, starting on Ash Wednesday 2019, as established by tradition, the men have begun growing their beards and letting their hair grow longer in preparation (only those playing Roman soldiers and stage hands are exempt from this requirement).

The Oberammergau Passion Play next occurs May 16th thru October 4th of 2020. There are only so many performances available, and tickets are selling out quickly.

If you wish to attend, you can make your own arrangements and buy your own tickets, or book with many of the tour companies offering pilgrimages to the play.  Some of these tours are just a few days long, but many others combine various locations as well as Oberammergau.  If you book with a group we suggest it be a Catholic group since they will have a different perspective than a Protestant or secular group.

One itinerary we find particularly interesting is combining the Holy Land with Oberammergau.  You will travel to the Holy Land and see where it all began, from the Annunciation to the Crucifixion, and then on to Germany to visit the Ettal Monastery, the healing shrine of Altotting, Munich and then the highlight of the trip:  witnessing the passion Play.  This itinerary, offered by Select International Tours, has eleven departures scheduled in 2020…..and, in addition to the itinerary we mentioned,  some of them include a Danube River cruise or other extensions as well.

But it is very important to sign up right away.  There are a limited number of seats and a limited number of performances, so once they are gone, they are gone until 2030.

You can check out the Official Oberammergau Passion Play website here.

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Fake News: U.S. & Canadian citizens traveling to Europe do not need a visa

Recently some new reports stated that, starting in 2021, U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling to Europe would require a visa.  Before you panic, please note that this is not the case:

For U.S. citizens traveling to Europe in 2021 and beyond, the will simply have to complete an online application and pay a small fee through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), a pre-screening program that aims to protect European Union (EU) borders.  Americans and other non-EU travelers can still travel to Europe without a visa for up to 90 days as long as they complete their form in the ETIAS before travel

ETIAS costs about $9.00 U.S. and you can do it in less than ten minutes, according to a fact sheet issued by the European Commission in July.  It calls  the ETIAS “a necessary and small procedural step for all visa-exempt travelers” that would help them “avoid bureaucracy and delays when presenting themselves at the border.”

The ETIAS will be required for any of the territories in the Schengen area of Europe — 26 countries that are part of the E.U. It is valid for three years, (or less if a passport expires before then).  Do not confuse the Schengen countries with the European Union…not all countries are in the E.U.

The Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland,  Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,  Switzerland.

This is a far less difficult and certainly less expensive than applying for a visa.

You can find out more information on their official website here (external link).  You will also find a list of the 61 countries whose residents will need to get the ETIAS authorization.

 

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Free streaming of fantastic new series this lent “Genesis to Jesus”

Want to deepen your faith this Lent?

Instead of “giving up something for Lent”, why not add something to your spiritual life?  Millions of viewers around the world have watched the Journey Through Scripture video Bible studies. The St. Paul Center’s latest video Bible study, “Genesis to Jesus” is the perfect way to do that.

Based on the covenantal theology of world-renowned scholar Scott Hahn and produced to the highest quality by Matthew Leonard, Genesis to Jesus makes the story of the Bible brilliantly clear and vibrantly alive.

Genesis to Jesus presents the whole sweep of salvation history, and helps you make sense of the Bible, literally, from Genesis to Jesus. By the end of Lent, you’ll understand the importance of Easter as the eighth day of creation in light of God’s unified plan for our salvation.

And, beginning Ash Wednesday (March 6), you can watch Genesis to Jesus for free!

Over the course of twelve episodes, discover the people and places that are most central to salvation history and point us to Jesus Christ.

You can find a preview of the series here.

Sign up to stream this new study free!!

You can also order the  complete Genesis to Jesus pack for individuals includes the participant workbook, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, and the Genesis to Jesus DVD set.

Sign up now to make the most of this Lent! Make sure to order your participant workbook as well to get it in time.

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My loving tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

I am a person who does not like crowds, so you would think that attending the Feast Day celebrations of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City on December 12 would be something I would avoid at all costs.  After all, well over one million (some estimates say 5 million) people pack the shrine on the Feast Day.  And yet I have always relished the times that I have been blessed to attend.

Join me as I reminisce about my first visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. On the evening prior to the Feast Day, those of us in our tour group who were more adventuresome decided to taxi to the Basilica. Traditionally many famous Mexican singers, performers and high ranking politicians show up for the festivities that start around 10:00 p.m. This lovely tribute goes on deep into the night and the love songs (Las Mananitas”) sung to Our Lady and the devotion the locals show for her is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  These are memories I’ll hold deep in my heart forever.

On the Feast Day itself (December 12th) we excitedly boarded our tour bus to take us to the Basilica.   But what a surprise was waiting for us!  Buses were restricted from getting too close to the shrine and we had to be dropped off quite a few blocks from there.  At this point we walked the rest of the way….something that turned out to be a blessing.  As usual, God’s plans are better than ours.

The Feast Day is a family event..here a man brings his young child to the Basilica.
The Feast Day is a family event..here a man brings his young child to the Basilica.

As we walked along with throngs of others all headed in the same direction, we experienced a real feeling of pilgrimage; unity with our fellow Catholics.  Those alongside us were mostly Mexican pilgrims, both individuals and whole families, carrying placards of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many had walked for miles, and sometimes for days, to get here.  We passed young people rousing themselves from sleep as they had camped out overnight.  These heartwarming images help you to appreciate how universal and vibrant our Catholic Faith is.

There is more to the Shrine than just the Basilica that contains the miraculous Tilma of Juan Diego, although that is certainly the high point.  I think many of us were surprised that the grounds encompass both the new and old Basilica (now leaning as if it will fall any moment).   You can also see the room where Saint Juan Diego lived out the rest of his life after the apparitions and his simple grave.

Upon entering the grounds where the Basilica is located, we were presented with a kaleidoscope of sights.  We were greeted by descendants of those original Aztecs dancing in the ancient dress as would have been worn at the pagan festivals prior to the apparitions to Juan Diego. The dancers reverently process in to the Basilica symbolizing the shift from the old pagan religion to the new religion of Christianity that they now so enthusiastically embrace.  The colorful dancers add a festive atmosphere to the Celebration of the feast day.

Mount Tepeyac overlooks the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Mount Tepeyac overlooks the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

But what moved me the most was that in the midst of it all was the Monastery built atop the Hill of Tepeyac.  This is where Juan Diego first encountered Our Lady!  The climb is steep, but unlike the time of the apparitions, there are now stairs to make the climb relatively easy (remember you are at a high altitude, so go easy if you have breathing problems).

Even the youngest get to join in the dances.
Even the youngest get to join in the dances.

It might seem more like a carnival than a religious event….. because the Mexican people do not pigeon-hole their faith in to just one hour on Sundays.  It is a part of their daily life.

One of the native dancers
One of the native dancers outside the Basilica.

Faith, culture and daily life all come together in this magical land, and nowhere is that more evident than here on December 12th each year.

If you can’t make it to the Shrine on that date, try to find some of the many festivals nearby celebrating this Patroness of the Americas.  Or maybe you can catch some of the action on one of the Spanish-language TV networks (don’t even need to speak Spanish to enjoy the celebration)  or perhaps one of the Catholic TV networks such as EWTN.

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Top 5 European train routes that are faster by train than plane

 

We often think of flying being a faster way to travel from city to city in Europe, but often that is not the case.

When you consider time spent in the long check-in lines at the airport (along with having to be there about two hours early) versus most trains requiring you to be there only 30 minutes prior to departure,  there is a great time savings there.

Then there is the fact that most train stations are in the heart of the city,  while most airports are a bus or cab drive away, train travel comes out not only faster but also cheaper than plane travel.

Consider the following infographic:

 

Infographic courtesy GoEuro….your source for train and bus tickets in Europe.

 

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Pilgrimage of Cabrini University to Mother Cabrini’s Birthplace

My name is Mignon Toppino. I am a Junior studying Religious Studies and Social Justice at Cabrini University. This past June I was blessed with the opportunity to go on an eleven-day Italy Pilgrimage with Select International Tours. The experiences I had on this pilgrimage opened my heart up to greater growth and learning of who I am and who my heavenly Father is.

Before attending Cabrini University in Radnor, PA, I attended Cabrini High School in New Orleans, LA. So, I grew up learning from and about Mother Cabrini. Going to Mother Cabrini’s birthplace was truly the highlight of the trip for me. Being able to be in the presence of the relic of Mother Cabrini’s heart was such an awakening moment. It’s quite difficult for me to really form the right words that describe the amount of joy, peace, love, and beauty I felt in those moments. I do know I have never felt surer of God’s love and mercy.

Our pilgrimage group with the statue of Mother Cabrini
Our pilgrimage group with the statue of Mother Cabrini

To explain to you fully what this whole experience meant to me and what I learned from it, I must explain what season of life I was in before the trip. I was having a great struggle with loving myself, seeing the face of Christ in myself, and hearing and understanding God’s voice.

To say that this trip was simply a great trip with beautiful opportunities would not be completely honest, because for me this trip was transformative. Everyday since the trip, I have learned a little more, I have started to love myself a little bit more, and by God’s grace this beauty will not stop. This trip was so transformative for me because it taught me the power of intentionality.

Diving deeper into Mother Cabrini’s story I learned how she was a very intentional women. Like her, I must intentionally remember who I am, and what my Heavenly Father calls women of faith to do, which is to love and serve their brothers and sisters. I owe all of who I am and all of my life experiences to my Heavenly Father, for everyday despite my sins and faults he chooses to love me and desires a deep and intimate relationship with me. I am unbelievably blessed but not only by the love of Christ but for the bond and relationship I have made with Mother Cabrini over the years. I can tell you for a fact that without Mother Cabrini’s life of love, faith, and bravery, my life would not be what it is today.

Note: the photo here is the group at Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore e Santa Francesca Cabrini
(Church of the Most Holy Redeemer and St Frances Cabrini).  The skull of St Frances Xavier Cabrini rests within this church. It is placed within a wax figure of her likeness as shown here.

Her place of birth is Sant’ Angelo de Lodigiano

The above article was re-posted with permission from Select International Tours.

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Travel Insurance during hurricane season….is it too late?

Hurricane SymbolThe Atlantic hurricane season is active this year, and for those traveling (especially on cruises) you need to be aware of what coverage you may have on travel insurance. Most beaches and tourist attractions begin to close a few days before forecast landfall if it is going to be a category 3 (sustained winds of 111-129 mph). The highest is category 5 with sustained winds over 136 miles per hour.  The danger is not just the wind but also the torrential rainfall that accompanies hurricanes (especially if it is slow-moving).

And, of course, if you are booked on a cruise the itinerary could likely be changed, but that should be covered by the cruise lines.  However, if the cruise  does go ahead (perhaps with some port substitutions) and you simply cannot get to the point of departure due to the hurricane, then you will wish that you had taken out travel insurance, because the cruise line will almost certainly not refund your money.

Many travel insurance policies include coverage for hurricanes that impact travel, as long as the policy was purchased before the storm was named.

Travelers who had a policy in place prior to the naming of the storm including Trip Cancellation and Travel Delay, may be protected in event of cancellation.

If it was purchased after that point, it won’t cover hurricane-related travel changes, said Steven Benna, a marketing specialist with travel insurance comparison website Squaremouth.

The Hurricane Lane Travel Insurance Information Center explains coverage related to the storm.

This database is regularly updated by Squaremouth’s travel insurance experts with answers frequently asked questions, official provider position statements, travel alerts and notices, and other information as the storm develops. Information is subject to change at any time.

Many airlines will offer to waive change fees, etc. so if you have booked air it is best to check with the airline.

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Santa Fe – The Cradle of Catholicism in the US

We often go out of the US on Catholic Pilgrimages, but do we know about the amazing Catholic history of the US itself? In Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mass was being celebrated 14 years before the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, and you can visit the oldest church in continuous use in the US to see where that happened, and where the first martyrs in the US died for their Catholic Faith. Santa Fe and the surrounding area is home to amazing sites of Catholic spirituality.

A bit further North, the Santuario de Chimayo is termed “The Lourdes of the United States,” where Christ is known to bring about miraculous healings and where devout pilgrims, descendants of the first Spanish settlers in the 1600’s, still walk on foot to visit from around the state every year.

Do you know the Story of St. Joseph’s Staircase–a miraculous architectural feature in the Chapel of the Sisters of Loretto that pious tradition tells us was built by St. Joseph himself? Science backs up the tradition, as a NASA study on the wood of the staircase stated that its molecular structure was not of a plant that could have grown on our planet. It is something you need to witness with your own eyes.

These are just a tiny few of the amazing experiences Santa Fe holds for devout Catholics.

We would like to invite you to visit and to stay at a beautiful historic downtown Santa Fe adobe house owned by Familia Victricis, an Association of the Faithful in the Archdiocese. Contact Giovanna at (505) 490-2775 or [email protected]. We would love to share pictures of the house, and special itineraries, guided by local priests, historians, and EWTN personality AnnaMaria Cardinalli are available.

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