By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
When Pope Francis declares sainthood for Blessed Teresa of Kolkata on Sept. 4 in Rome, a group with The Catholic Messenger will be there, and you can join us! We’re making an extraordinary, eight-day pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi Aug. 30-Sept. 6 that will include walking through the four Holy Doors of Rome to receive plenary indulgence in this Year of Mercy.
Our spiritual director is a veteran traveler to Rome, Father Marty Goetz of the Davenport Diocese. In February, he was commissioned by Pope Francis as a missionary of mercy. “I am so excited to witness the canonization of Mother Teresa,” said Fr. Goetz, pastor of Ss. John & Paul Parish-Burlington. “She was such an instrument of God’s mercy and love — a saint of our own times — and she has given us a model to follow. We can’t all be Mother Teresa but in our own way we can follow her example. As a priest, that means I can be more patient and loving. For parents, they can show that patience and love to their children. For all of us, we can be a little more loving and caring to our brothers and sisters.”
On a recent trip to Rome with the Notre Dame High School-Burlington choir, Fr. Goetz, the students and chaperones attended a general audience of Pope Francis. “One of the kids mentioned how many people were there (about 50,000). My guess is there will be over 1 million people there for Mother Teresa,” Fr. Goetz said. “To be able to celebrate with people all over the world who loved her and want to follow her example will be overwhelming but so special. It is my hope and prayer that the pilgrims going with us will have their hearts and souls touched by God’s mercy and love.”
Select International Tours, a Catholic pilgrimage company, has custom-designed our pilgrimage.
In addition to witnessing Blessed Teresa’s canonization and passing through the four Holy Doors in Rome, we’ll visit St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. We’ll stop to pray at the tomb of St. John Paul II. We’ll visit the Catacombs to see where the early Christians prayed in secret and buried their dead.
We’ll tour the ancient ruins of the Coliseum, see the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, and enjoy a day to see Rome at our leisure. In Assisi, we’ll see the tomb of St. Francis, the crypt of St. Clare and the chapel where St. Francis consecrated St. Clare.
Seeing Assisi will be a first-time experience for Fr. Goetz, and “I am looking forward to it. I have been told that it is such a peaceful place and to walk in the footsteps of St. Francis will be so powerful. Rome is wonderful. Everywhere you go there is a sense of history and you start to think: I wonder who was here from our history? Did St. Peter or St. Paul preach here? What was it like for the early Christians who would give up their life for Jesus? You see things that help you grow in faith…. St. Peter’s and the Vatican are truly special. To see the number of pilgrims there praying and giving praise to God is beyond description.”
Fr. Goetz has visited three of the four churches designated as pilgrimage sites for the Year of Mercy. “The only one I have not been at is St. Mary Major. Each of the churches is beautiful. It is a special thing to do, to go through the Holy Doors and come to know God’s mercy and love. To pause as you enter and just take in God’s mercy and love. What a special gift.”
The diocesan priest also had the privilege of climbing, on his knees, the Holy Stairs in the Scala church in Rome, across the street from St. John Lateran Basilica. As legend has it, Jesus descended the staircase of this building, Pilate’s house, after being condemned to death. At the top of the staircase is a painting of the crucifixion.
“This pilgrimage,” Fr. Goetz said, “is for anyone who desires to come closer to Jesus and to experience a truly once-in-a-lifetime event. If you truly open your heart you will be touched by God’s love and mercy and grace.”
Catholic Messenger pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi
When: Aug. 30-Sept. 6, 2016
Canonization of Blessed Teresa: Sep. 4, 2016
Spiritual director: Father Marty Goetz, pastor of Ss. John & Paul Parish, Burlington.
For more information about the pilgrimage: Contact Susan Prendergast at (800) 842-4842 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit Select International Tours’ website: