Women’s ministry to host Italian pilgrimage in June

| January 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

This summer, one of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ newest ministries — Women In the New Evangelization (WINE) — is inviting women on a 10-day pilgrimage to Italy to “meet mystics, martyrs, monastics and two great moms: St. Helena and St. Monica.”

“Wine & Shrine: Visiting the Great Female Saints of Italy” will take place June 17-26.

The destination is especially appropriate, given the Holy Year of Mercy, said WINE founder Kelly Wahlquist; pilgrims will walk through the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

They’ll also explore monasteries, shrines and catacombs to experience St. Scholastica, St. Clare of Assisi and
St. Catherine of Siena, to name a few.

The pilgrimage will focus on the spirituality of women “to help them know and grow their gifts as women — how the same gifts were manifested in the women who went before them and are now saints,” Wahlquist said. “This is one of God’s great gifts of mercy to us — the communion of saints.”

Diana George of Corporate Travel in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, is organizing the pilgrimage and said it’s different from the many others to Rome that she’s working on in the Year of Mercy.

“The fact that this is a pilgrimage only for women is really unique and exciting,” George said. “The fact that they’ll be doing some wine tasting and sharing meals is a very Italian thing to do to create community. And then on top of it to see beautiful churches and going to Mass and just sharing their faith is very special.”

George explained that with student groups, “you can talk to kids all day long about the ‘Mona Lisa,’ but then once you show them the ‘Mona Lisa,’ [it’s apparent] how much that really changes and affects them. The same is for pilgrimages. You hear about St. Monica, and as Catholics we pray for her intercession, but then to see her tomb . . . makes it real. The hope is for [the pilgrims] to come home refreshed and renewed and excited about their faith and their role in it.”

Wahlquist, a parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus in Medina, will host the pilgrimage with Teresa Tomeo, author and syndicated Catholic talk show host, and Sarah Christmyer, co-developer with Jeff Cavins of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study program. In Italy, American-born art historian Liz Lev and special guest Joan Lewis, Eternal Word Television Network’s Rome bureau chief, will serve as tour guides.

Leading up to the pilgrimage, which is open to about 80 women, Wahlquist said WINE will suggest preparation materials, including Lewis’ new book, “A Holy Year in Rome: The Complete Pilgrim’s Guide for the Jubilee of Mercy.”

The pilgrimage includes daily Mass, opportunities for confession, prayer, journaling, learning “nuggets of the faith,” a vineyard tour and cooking class. Wahlquist hopes women unable to go on the pilgrimage will be able to experience a taste of it through WINE’s videos, social media and blog posts.

Wahlquist said she wants the pilgrims to return with courage and confidence to live the faith, “knowing they’ve got their sisters in Christ here on earth to help them on this journey, and they’ve got their sisters, the saints, that they now have this deeper relationship [with] to help them as they continue on their pilgrimage to the heart of the Father.”

The trip’s early-bird pricing lasts until Feb. 14.

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