A Personal Invitation from Dr. Robert Moynihan
I am writing to invite you to join me in Rome for a special “Fall Family Pilgrimage” at the end of September 2017. Rome is lovely in September and this pilgrimage would be an extraordinary time of grace for you and your entire family.
In order to make this possible financially, we have designed a more economical pilgrimage package, priced to enable you to bring your children, yet maintaining the integrity and special “Inside the Vatican” quality of our signature pilgrimages.
Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages began in 2008. Over the past nine years we have organized and led more than 30 pilgrimages to “the heart of the Church.” We have found that keeping the pilgrimages small allows for a more intimate, personal experience, which means that I will not be leading 95 people through the streets and traffic of Rome holding high a yellow umbrella. Rather, we will walk at a normal pace, with time to pause, talk, discuss, take photographs, stop for a snack for the kids in a Roman cafe. At the end of our journey together, we hope our pilgrims will discover that they have not only visited some of the most important shrines in the Christian world, but have made deep friendships that will last a lifetime with one another and with those they have met along the way.
During these pilgrimages, we eat real Italian food, talk to real Swiss Guards, stroll across real Italian piazzas, and taste real Italian gelato. It should be an experience you and your children will never forget and it should give you something to talk about at family gatherings for decades to come.
But the pilgrimage is not primarily a tourist trip; it is a spiritual journey. A pilgrimage can become the source of deeper understanding and deeper insight into the Faith, and into everything that threatens or weakens or replaces the Faith.
Many pilgrims say they come to a clearer understanding of these things while staying with us at the Villa Serenella, a small Maronite monastery on the outskirts of Rome owned by an order of monks from Lebanon. Still within the boundaries of modern Rome, the monastery is about three miles from the geographical “heart” of the Catholic Church, yet we are also removed — removed from the noise and hustle and bustle of the world, secluded in a grotto of peace.
There, a small group of Lebanese Maronite monks celebrate the morning Office in the Maronite rite, using the Syriac language, a dialect of Aramaic — the language that Jesus spoke 2,000 years ago. Hearing their voices, we feel a special closeness to the son of Mary, the teacher from Nazareth who suffered and died in Jerusalem.
We have a chance to go each day into the center of Rome and visit the places where St. Peter and St. Paul lived, walked, were imprisoned, and were executed. And each day we can return to the Villa Serenella, where we enjoy an evening meal of genuine Italian food, prepared for us by Anna, a smiling Italian lady who provides for us as if we were members of her own family.
I will be able to be with you throughout the entire pilgrimage. During the pilgrimage, I will share stories from my 30 years of working in and around Vatican City, and answer your questions. I will also be inviting friends of mine who work and live in Rome, and have stories of their own. In addition, I will lead you on a walking tour of St. Peter’s Square and Baroque Rome. We would like your journey with us to be “an oasis of mercy” in your life, one that enriches your life and deepens your faith.
So, please consider joining me on this extraordinary journey. We expect it to be a wonderful, joyful, and memorable time for you and your family.
Founder and Editor of Inside the Vatican magazine