Assisi Pilgrimage Was an Experience of a Lifetime
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Excitement and anticipation were in the air as 34 pilgrims met in Chicago’s O’Hare airport for an amazing experience in Assisi and Rome June 4-13. After our plane touched down in Rome, we were met by our guide, Elio, then we were on our way to Assisi with a stop at the mountainside city of Greccio.
As we approached Assisi, we could not help but think of the quote, “A city built on a mountain top cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14). Assisi seems to glow as it is perched on the side of the mountain--it is an image we will not soon forget. We learned that most of the cities around Assisi cling to the mountainsides because, in the past, the hilly terrain gave residents an advantage over enemies approaching the city.
A sign announced our destination: Assisi, City of Peace. In the days that followed, we found those words to be so true, as a sense of peace surrounds the area.
More than 100 steps greeted us as we made our way to the spot where Francis created the first living crèche. It was here that we lit our first candle for our community.
We spent time at the Basilica of San Francesco and Santa Chiara, and stood before the incorrupt body of St. Clare. We visited San Damiano and St. Mary of the Angels, which protects the Portiuncula. We attended Sunday Mass above Francis’ crypt, and Sister Rosemary Reier read the First Reading for the day.
Later, we traveled to Gubbio and La Verna, and were amazed at the caves Francis prayed in. We prayed with the monks at the spot where Francis received the stigmata, and once again gathered to light a candle and remember the intentions of our sisters and associates.
In Rome, our hotel was right on the road that led into St. Peter’s Square. The highlight of this part of the trip was seeing Pope Francis. He came through the crowd in his Popemobile, and we were very close to him as he moved among the crowd. He spoke in four or five different languages, and when he spoke in Spanish and Italian, he departed from his script and became more animated as his eyes and hands reached out to the people.
Some of the group toured the Sistine Chapel and other Vatican museums, while others went on the Scavi Tour of the excavated area under St. Peter’s Basilica. On our last evening in Rome, we had supper and celebrated with Sister Navya Thattil, from North India, who had just completed her studies for her doctorate in Canon Law.
The next morning we boarded the plane for home, grateful for all we had experienced and for our safe travels. In the spirit of Francis, we send you peace and all goodness!
Sisters and Associates Brighten the Lives of Women in Shelters
We are all familiar with “April showers bring May flowers.” The associates’ spring project brought flowers of a different kind: colorful bags filled with items for Milwaukee-and Chicago-area women’s shelters. On May 18, sisters and associates gathered to fill 80 bags. Sister Rose Knotek added a very special touch by sewing 24 colorful cloth bags in which larger items could be packaged. Her expertise and willingness to share in our project is yet another example of how our sisters and associates share their gifts and support.
This project enabled the associates to once again reach out to those in need. Our efforts to make life a little more pleasant will give these women hope and the message that we care about them. We want to thank all of you who so generously answered our call for toiletry items, and we look forward to future projects and activities where we can continue to respond together to the needs of our world.
Cookies Bring Holiday Cheer to Meal Program Guests
By Sister Rosemary Reier, Director, Associate Relationship
Last month’s associate cookie baking project was a great success! We were able to send 115 boxes for distribution among the guests at St. Ben’s Community Meal program. A team of sisters and associates, including prospective associate Tina Rawlins and associate Mary Jane Dimsey, joined the project by baking and assembling, and 25 associates made financial donations for the project, which we used to purchase containers, candy canes, and ribbon. We will use the remainder of the donations this spring for a women’s shelter project. Thank you to all who joined us in this Christmas project!