Tales from the 2015 Ordination Pilgrimage
Posted in Events on December 18, 2015

From Miss Dolores Weber

“There are no words” was an expression I heard used over and over again by my fellow pilgrims on the American 2015 Ordination Pilgrimage to Italy.  The pilgrimage was made up of 28 faithful from across the country and was led by our chaplain, Canon Michael Stein.  The following is my day by day account of our 10 day journey through Florence, Sienna, and Rome!

Day 1: Our journey began at Chicago’s O’Hare international airport.  Our group consisted of faithful from across the country of various ages and backgrounds.  We all became acquainted with each other as we anxiously waited to board the plane.  It was edifying to look around on the flight and see my traveling companions praying with their rosaries in hand. For the inexperienced traveler, this journey was long and tiresome, but we were reminded by our Chaplain that this is just a part of the sacrifice that the seminarians and Canons make many times a year on their travels to and from the Motherhouse.

Day 2: We arrived in Florence and were greeted by our friendly native Roman tour guide.  She reminded us that the purpose of this trip was a spiritual one, that we were not just tourists, but pilgrims coming to experience our Catholic faith at its core. At once we made our way to Holy Mass at the beautiful Chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano (the Church of St. Michael and Cajetan) to offer thanks for a safe trip.  Upon entering the Church I first noticed the high altar, and the 11 young deacons practicing for their Priestly Ordination ceremony which would take place in just a few days…  

Day 3: Our tour guide walked us through coble stone streets of Florence, and along the bridge of the Arno River to sightsee the magnificent Duomo, the Piazza Michelangelo, the Piazza dell Signoria, and the art of Fra Angelico at the San Marco Museum.  We gathered at the Chiesa de Santi Michele e Gaetano for the first of three Institute ceremonies we would witness on our travels: the reception of the Cassock and the Incardinations.  The Mass and ceremony began with the grand sight of the long procession of Canons and seminarians who filled half the Church. Seminarians received their new garb that now makes them visibly recognizable servants dedicated to Our Lord!

Day 4: The highly anticipated visit to the Motherhouse and International St. Philip Neri Seminary in Villa Martelli at Gricigiliano took place on this day.  After a winding drive through the Tuscan hills, vineyards and woods, Pilgrims stepped out of the tour bus to be greeted by a banner bearing the Institute coat of arms in between the two St. Mary and St. Joseph buildings.  Lunch and dinner was hosted by the seminary; busy seminarians swarmed about and diligently served us. Some of us sat outside, while others sat in the indoor refectory where the seminarians typically share their meals. Pilgrim members of the St. Philip Neri Seminary Society had an opportunity to meet their spiritually adopted seminarian. Holy Mass was celebrated for us in the Holy Trinity chapel. A tour of the seminary was given to our group: the Martelli family theater, the Red Room parlor, the Chapel, sacristy, the living quarters, library, computer room, the winery and olive groves and vineyards. We also visited the terrace which had a magnificent view of the scenic hills and winding Arno River in the distance.  

Day 5: Our morning began at the Chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano once again for the Mass of Ordination for Deacons and Subdeacons.  Another stunning ceremony took place before eyes as those Ordained Deacons received the final Order which prepares them for the Priesthood.  That afternoon we visited Siena, the home of St. Catherine and the magnificent Duomo of Siena.  The Duomo with filled with centuries of  beauty – from the dark blue and gold star ceiling, to the marble floors – all that was used to lift our hearts and minds to the Divine!

Day 6: Ordination Day!  The future priests processed in a church overflowing with faithful. The congregation arose to their feet when the drums declared the entrance of Cardinal Burke. The ornate Ordination ceremony lasted nearly four hours.  After the ceremonies we once again made our way to Gricigiliano to celebrate. Upon our arrival we were hosted for a festive lunch at the Convent of the Sister Adorers. We sat outside and enjoyed the views of Tuscany and mingled with other international guests. The hard work of the sisters and the love of their vocation were evident as they showed us their humble house and restorations.  After our lunch, guests continued the celebration at the seminary, not a far walk from the convent.  There we were given the opportunity to receive the first blessing of the newly Ordained Priests.  After another festive dinner, the night ended with a spectacular firework show that was synced with classical music.  

Day 7: Our day began with Mass at the Seminary in the chapel of the Immaculate Conception. We were honored to attend the first Mass of Canon Commins, one of the newly ordained priests.  There was much excitement at the seminary for the first Masses. We left the seminary and began our bus ride journey to Rome.  Along the way we visited the Orvieto Cathedral which houses a Eucharistic miracle.

Day 8:  Fourth of July was spent at the Vatican where Canon Stein celebrated an early morning Mass at the Altar of Pope St. Pius X in St. Peter’s Basilica. Inside the altar one could see the body of the saint. While our families were back at home celebrating the independence of our country, our group had the same sense of pride for Holy Mother Church as we explored the Vatican museums.  From there we walked to the Pantheon and the Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella.  Providentially, our group was able to have a private tour through Saint Phillip Neri’s private apartment and oratory.

Day 9: Mass was celebrated for us at the Chiesa Gesu e Maria on Via del Corso. From there we walked to the Basilica of St. John Laeteran, the Sancta Scalia -- where we had the opportunity to climb the Holy Stairs, and visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Our last night in Rome our group had special dinner together….

Day 10: Our flight departed Rome in the early morning and made it safely back to Chicago.

How wonderful it was to be a part of this pilgrimage! I was in awe as we walked in the footsteps of so many saints and martyrs, attended daily Mass in century old churches, and explored magnificent art and structures. I witnessed the happiness and divine joy at the Ordination Ceremonies in which lives where generously dedicated to service of Christ the King!  It was edifying to visit heart of the Institute in Gricigliano where the Sister Adorers lead a life of prayer and work, and where seminarians are formed into Canons. While there may not be adequate words to describe all that we experienced, the beauty we encountered on this trip will be unforgettable.


From Stephanie Breaux

The ordination pilgrimage to Florence, Italy with the Institute of Christ the King was an awesome spiritual journey enriching my faith and appreciation for all the Institute religious. Canon Michael Stein was the organizer and leader of this 1st ordination pilgrimage celebrating 25 years of the Institute. It was with great anticipation I prepared for the pilgrimage and friends prayed for my spiritual welfare. Each day flowed beautifully, and joy and wonderment filled my spirit as I experienced the peace and happiness of each day of the journey.

There are so many highlights of the pilgrimage and I will attempt to share a few of them. Meeting my spiritual seminarian was very special as I have been praying for his vocation for 2 years, and he is growing in the love of Our Lord and Blessed Mother. Visiting the seminary and seeing the seminarians lives of discipline, commitment, and charity gave me an understanding of why the Institute priests and brothers become the imitators of Christ. The seminarians served us and graciously entertained us in conversation as did the Sister Adorers. I enjoyed the tour of the convent and meeting the sisters was so encouraging to my faith as there are so few professed traditional orders of sisters in the US. They still need work done on the convent structure and I encourage everyone who is able to make donations to the Sisters.

The ordination of the minor orders was done by Bishop Perry and he is so serene and very engaging to everyone. Chicago is fortunate to have Bishop Perry. The ordination ceremonies were beautiful and I felt like I had a taste of heaven with the communion of saints. Archbishop Cordelione ordained the Deacons and Subdeacons, and I enjoyed meeting many of the Deacons and their families after the ordination. The phenomenal numbers of persons attending all of the ordinations were from many parts of the world. I met a nice couple from Finland who were evangelical Lutherans who came to celebrate Canon Tanners ordination. A seminarian from a diocese in Poland came to the ordination with a British priest and he shared with me his love for the traditions of the Church. A gentleman from Switzerland also shared with me his love of the Institute. The ordination of 11 priests by Cardinal Burke impressed upon me the need to pray for our priests daily. The evening celebrations after the priestly ordination were spectacular under the Tuscan sky and moon with fireworks and champagne, and wonderful company.

One side trip that meant a lot to me was Sienna and visiting the home of St. Catherine of Sienna. Kneeling beneath the Cross where she experienced her mystical visions touched my mind and heart. Visiting the site of the Eucharistic miracle of Orvieto was unforgettable. Michaelangelo's Last Judgment prompted me to think of the reality of Our Lord's future coming. The painting was impressionable and I can easily visualize it in my mind.

I cannot forget to mention the tasty meals, inclusive of pizza and gelatto. Our tour guide was Patrizia and she is delightful. She too has a special place in her heart for the traditions of the Church and Cardinal Burke. She also loves cats as much as I do.

I thank Canon Stein for his attention and concern to all the 28 pilgrims entrusted to his care, and I will always conjure up memories of this pilgrimage as I journey through this world to my heavenly home. Christ reigns forever!!

Click the images below to enlarge them.

Tales from the 2015 Ordination Pilgrimage
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