St. Gregory the Great Parish's Ministry of Mothers Sharing (MOMS) will lead a Spiritual Pilgrimage for Life in Italy. Former Vatican volunteers for the Jubilee Year of Mercy and St. Greg's members Nadine Bargnes and Dawn Iacono will return to the Eternal City with Catholic MOMS from the diocese. Msgr. Robert E. Zapfel, STD, who studied and lived in Rome and is pastor of St. Leo the Great Parish in Amherst, will spiritually guide 24 MOMS through Rome and Assisi in late May.
"After we volunteered in Rome, many MOMS encouraged us to lead a pilgrimage for Catholic mothers. With prayer, spots filled with ease," said Bargnes.
It will be a traditional pilgrimage to a certain extent; daily Mass, recognizing prayer in every experience with the intercession of the saint of the day. Each day adding a concentration on the perfection of a virtue within the vocation of motherhood. A rosary and chaplet of divine mercy will be recited while spiritually unpacking group prayer in the convent chapel, invoking our spiritual mother Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe's special intercession for life.
The mothers who have been drawn to this experience come from different parishes but collectively are traveling with three specific prayer intentions; increased holiness in themselves and in their children/families, sanctification of priests and the Holy Father, and an end to abortion with a greater respect for human life. Highlights of the visit include a special dinner and talk with Joan Lewis, EWTN's Rome bureau chief, author of "A Holy Year in Rome" and host of Joan's Rome on Catholic radio. The MOMS will attend the Angelus and Wednesday papal audience with Pope Francis. Msgr. Zapfel will celebrate daily Mass in various churches including the basilicas of St. Peter's, St. Mary Major, and St. Francis with a visit to St. Clare on the feast of Corpus Christi. Included is Mass at Casa Santa Maria, Msgr. Zapfel's graduate school which is part of the Pontifical North American College where American priests are sent by their diocese to complete their graduate studies.
Prayers at holy sites include saints who were mothers; tombs of St. Monica and St. Frances of Rome. Additionally, a pro-life service day at a shelter for new mothers is scheduled at the Suore Missionarie Della Carita DiMadre (Missionary Sisters of Charity), also known as St. Mother Teresa's order. MOMS will offer up their labors for the protection of the unborn by assisting new mothers with their babies. Our local Legion of Mary donated over 50 rosaries with miraculous medals and meditations for the MOMS to share in the Italian house for expecting mothers and moms who've delivered their babies.
The trip has been planned for over a year with the assistance of Mike Denz, founder of St. Gemma's Catholic Pilgrimages. Details of the trip were outlined and then explained during monthly meetings. "Meeting monthly helped the group to pray together and also learn about the spiritual significance of the sacred places scheduled on our visit," said Iacono, Adult Faith Formation director at St. Leo's and former pro-life director for the diocese, "We wanted to stress the importance of understanding the beauty of our Catholic faith prior to experiencing it in the heart of the Church."
In preparation for their journey, the MOMS took Italian lessons; shared Italian meals and even experienced wine tasting together. Chris Moscato, a mother of two adopted children from Colombia, will be traveling with Catherine Wadhams, an adopted mother herself, who made scarves for each MOM on the journey. One will be given to Pope Francis on behalf of the group, MOMS for Life.
For more information see www.TakeaPilgrimage.com.