THE PATH OF SS. PETER AND PAUL
I have been putting off announcing the content of this blog entry for some time. For many years people of this diocese have asked me to lead a tour to the Holy Land and to Rome. During the millenium year I did so but events did not allow us to go to Israel at the time, only Rome. We had well over 150 people on that occasion and I enjoyed it, although it does take a supreme effort to lead that many people. My recent bout with serious illness suggested to me that if was I going to attempt something like this, it should be sooner rather than later. During the course of my recuperation, I received in the mail a brochure from Holland America Line (my personal favorite that I can afford) and noticed that they were offering a cruise on their flagship, the MS ROTTERDAM in late October, 2011 which might give me the opportunity to lead such a tour/pilgrimage while those accompanying me would be safe and comfortable.
So working with a travel agent who I have used and with Holland America, we have reserved a selection of cabins in every price range for a cruise originating in Athens on Tuesday, October 25 2011 and ending in Rome on Sunday, November 6, 2011 [twelve days]. What makes this itinerary so attractive to my purposes is that is has three full days [7:00 am to Midnight each day] in Israel, including an overnight in Haifa, less than a hour from Nazareth, Mt. Tabor and the Sea of Tiberias/Galilee. Additionally it visits Ephesus [modern day Kusadasi in Turkey] where we will have Mass at Mary’s House where she and John the Apostle are said to have lived after the death of the Lord. This stop is prior to visiting the Greek and Roman ruins where Paul preached to the Ephesians.
For those who can arrive in Athens one day early, I will lead a tour by bus to Corinth where Paul preached to one of the most recalcitrant communities he visited on his missionary journies. The cruise also visits Alexandria, Egypt with an all-day tour into Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and the Egyptian museum which contains the greatest collection of gold and jewels of the pharoahs, including King Tut.
I have asked the professor of New Testament studies at our regional seminary in Boynton Beach to accompany us and prepare us for what we will visit in the context of the lives of Peter and Paul, Jesus and Mary, and the scriptures. Monsignor Stephen Bosso is well known in this diocese for his knowledge of scripture and making it interesting as well as informative. He will prepare us on the ship for what we will be visiting and assist me in the major sites in Jerusalem (where he studied for a year) and throughout Corinth, Ephesus and Rome.
I will celebrate Mass in the following places:
October 29 at the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord – Mt. Tabor
October 30 at the Chapel of the Primacy along the Sea of Tiberias
October 31 at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
November 3 at Mary’s house – Ephesus
November 6 at the North American College Chapel, Rome
November 7 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome
November 8 at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls Basilica in Rome
November 9 at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome
Those on the journey can choose to remain extra days in Rome during which I will lead them to and through the famous places of our faith there and attend the Wednesday audience with Pope Benedict XVI. I will depart Rome on Thursday, November 10th for home but others may choose to stay longer or perhaps visit Florence, Assisi or the Amalfi coast. Finally, those who can not get enough of shipboard life may choose to remain on the ROTTERDAM as it departs Rome on November 6, 2011 for a sixteen day trans-Atlantic voyage terminating in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
If you wish to accompany us, I suggest moving very quickly to secure the cabin of your choice. It can be done at the moment by calling Donna or Maria at Destination Travel, 1-800-226-0902. A deposit of $300.00 per person will hold the selected cabin until August 11, 2011 when final payment in full will be required. We only have 100 cabins reserved and forty-five have already been chosen as of this writing, many by my family.
There is a brochure available outlining both the itinerary and the general price of the cabins. If you would like one, please e-mail me at email@example.com and one will be sent to you immediately. The travel agent can also do the same. Or you can access the Holland America website at http://www.hollandamerica.com and choose the ROTTERDAM October 25, 2011 departure from Piraeus found in the destination and find cruise section.
I am providing a special guide book to all pilgrims on this trip which gives the scripture passages for every place in the Holy Land we will visit and a description of what happened at each place. That will be coming to you one month prior to departure.
Finally, airlines do not open their seat inventory until 331 days prior to the flights so it will be impossible for anyone to book the air portion until around the 15th of December 2010. We will also offer a hotel option in Athens and Rome but as with the flights, you are free to either make your own reservations or utilize the travel agency.
While I am leading this pilgrimage of faith, it is solely the responsibility of Holland America lines and their vendors and Destination Travel, not the Diocese or myself personally. Donna Rizzo from Destination Travel will be accompanying the group throughout the advertised portion of the tour.
That’s enough and I will not use this blog again for this purpose. If interested, I strongly encourage you to book. The cruise deposit is totally refundable without penalty right up to the time of final payment. If you can, I hope you will joing me in walking the paths of Our Lord, Peter and Paul.