Every year the Junior Youth Ministry from the neighboring parishes, along with parents and others, and under the guidance of our Pastoral Associate, Felician Sister Charlene, make a trip or pilgrimage in the Spring. I tag along for support and Mass. In the last few years we have gone to Emmittsburg and DC.
Tomorrow is our trip for 2012. We are off to my old stomping grounds - Loretto, Pennsylvania - nestled in the mountains between Altoona and Johnstown. Loretto is a small hamlet founded by the priest, Father Demetrius Gallitzin, who was a Russian nobleman (prince) who converted to Catholicism, gave up his legacy, came to the New World and was ordained a priest, and established this small Catholic settlement called Loretto. Loretto is known for the University that is its mainstay - Saint Francis University - operated by the Third Order Regular Franciscan Friars (TOR). There is also a quiet and beautiful and prayerful Carmelite Monastery located in the town, as well as the Chapel/House of Father Gallitzin and the local Church of Saint Michael, which is a minor basilica. Loretto also housed the summer home of steel magnate Charles Schwab, whose house and gardens are now a part of the Franciscan Monastery. We plan on visiting, praying, being inspired, dining at these sites and coming home renewed. I'll fill you in on the day later.
The last thing that I want to point out to those on the trip is my former seminary at Saint Francis, where I finished college and spent my theology years. We are not able to stop and tour the place because of the double barbed wire fence around the grounds and the security guards at the gate. My seminary has been closed since 1979 and is now a prison - a Federal Correctional Institution (a low security facility). I jokingly say that all they did was change the locks, clean up the place, and put a fence around the grounds. I wonder who is in my old room? All in all it promises to be an informative trip.