Monday, April 30, 2012

The trip - Part 1

     As I mentioned in my last post, our Junior Youth Ministry, along with a number of others, journeyed to Loretto, Pennsylvania, for a pilgrimage/journey.  We had a great day, even though it was a bit cool in the mountains of Central PA.  One of the reasons that we travelled to Loretto was because of its founder, Father Demetrius Gallitzin, the founding pastor of the small Catholic Community.  I thought I would share a little about Father Gallitzin.

     Demetrius Gallitzin was born in the late 1700's to Russian Count Dimitri Alexeivich Gallitzin and German Countess Adelheid Amalie von Schmettau Gallitzin in the Hague, where Demetrius' father served as ambassador to the Netherlands.  The Gallitzin's were known in the court of Catherine the Great, and were, according to accounts, vast landowners.  A lady that gave us background info said that at one time the family owned land greater in size than the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

     Demetrius received the best education, and his father had high hopes for a military career.  But Demetrius was not drawn to the military or Russian aristocracy, but rather to his mother's newly adopted Roman Catholic Faith.  At the age of seventeen he was baptized Catholic, much to his father's objection.  It was customary to travel to broaden one's education, and with the turmoil in Europe, Prince Demetrius, as he was called, was sent to the United States, arriving in Baltimore on October 28, 1792, where he was introduced to Bishop John Carroll.  Following a call to the religious life, he attended seminary in the U.S. and was one of the first priests ordained in this country on March of 1795.  After serving a number of missions, he undertook in 1799 the establishment of a Catholic settlement in Cambria County in the Allegheny mountains which he named Loretto, after the Marian shrine in Italy.  He served there and in the area until his death in 1840.  He became a naturalized citizen in 1802.  His legacy continues to live on.

     The cause for his road to sainthood has begun, and he was declared a "Servant of God" by the Vatican on June 6, 2005.  A "Servant of God" designation acknowledges that this person is worthy of the attention of God's people.  His life is being studied as the process continues.  I have included a picture of his desk with picture and books found in his residence, and a picture of our group gathered in the Chapel/House that he had built.

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