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Fliers in the U.S.A. face new ID requirements in October 2020

Nothing can ruin a trip more than being denied boarding at the airport….absolutely nothing.  For U.S. travelers, you need to take a look at your driver’s license. Does it have a star in the upper right corner?  Most do not…unless they have been issued fairly recently.  Of course if you are traveling internationally you most likely have a passport, so that is not a problem.  But if you are on a domestic flight, new rules require that driver’s licenses be REAL ID compliant (meaning that they are more secure than the old style).  This rule goes into effect October 2020……which is not that far away!

Real id photo
Photo courtesy N.Y. State Dept of Motor Vehicles

Your license will be accepted if it has a star in the upper right hand corner.  If not, be sure to have an alternate form of I.D. available such as a passport; a trusted traveler card, or a border ID card.  If your license is due for renewal before that date, almost every state will be in compliance (a few have gotten extensions, so check with your state).

Our advice is to get a passport….even if you are not planning to travel overseas right now, they are good for 5 years, and universally accepted.  Then, if you have a sudden opportunity to travel out of the country, then that is one less thing for you to worry about.

While we are on the subject, here are a few other passport tips.

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FRANCE (Paris) Annual Paris to Chartres Pilgrimage

The Paris-Chartres Pilgrimage occurs every year on the Feast of Pentecost in early summer, and is a multi-generational, multi-national gathering of Catholics who draw closer to God through the centuries-old act of pilgrimage.

The walk is roughly 62 miles over 3 days—beginning at daybreak on the Saturday before Pentecost, and ending with an afternoon mass on the Monday after Pentecost.

Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral

The trek takes 8,000-10,000 pilgrims from the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, through the French countryside to the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres. Participants brave the weather, blisters, and humble food and accommodations as an act of faith and an act of reparation in these modern times.

The theme for the 2019 Pilgrimage is “THE PEACE OF CHRIST THROUGH THE REIGN OF CHRIST”.

Pilgrims will meet in front of Notre-Dame de Paris at 6:00 am on June 8th, 2019 where the journey of faith on foot begins.

Click here for the official Chartres Pilgrimage  website.

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Reminder: Pilgrim Masses in Santiago de Compostela temporarily moved

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is undergoing renovation in 2019, and as a result pilgrim masses are celebrated in other churches throughout the city rather than in the Cathedral itself.

However, there is a daily mass in the Chapel of la Corticela, which is inside the Cathedral.

The Cathedral itself is open daily from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm….only the masses have been moved.

Here are the temporary locations:

Iglesia de San Francisco: Daily Pilgrim’s Mass – 12:00 am noon

Iglesia de San Fiz de Solovio: Daily Pilgrim’s Mass – 7:00 pm (from June). After the mass, Pilgrim Prayer (from Monday to Saturday).

Iglesia de Santa María Salomé:

From Monday to Friday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 7:00 pm

Saturdays: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm

Sundays: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm

Chapel of la Corticela: Every day – 11:00 am

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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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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.