It may come as a surprise to many that Bishop Richard J. Malone has never been to Ireland, although his roots run deep in the Emerald Isle. Next October, travelers from the Diocese of Buffalo can join the bishop as he sees the sights in the land of his ancestors for the very first time.
"Of course I want to see anything that has to do with the beginnings of Christianity in Ireland, anything to do with St. Patrick. That's very important to me," said Bishop Malone, as he looks ahead to a 10-day pilgrimage. It's a trip for which he helped craft the itinerary to ensure that it includes spiritual renewal and reflection as well as many "must see" tourist sites, such as Blarney Castle, the Cliffs of Moher and the Titanic Museum.
"It is a pilgrimage," said Bishop Malone, who intends to celebrate Mass each day. "I would consider it more of a pilgrimage than a tour, but it's both. There will be a great deal of prayer and visiting of holy places, but also we will experience all the other beautiful things about Ireland."
The pilgrimage to Ireland, A Journey of Faith, is scheduled for Oct. 20-29. The double occupancy rate is $3,799 per person. It includes round-trip airfare from Toronto, hotels, ground transportation and most dinners and breakfasts during the 10-day trip. The trip begins with Mass at St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral in Armagh, the spiritual capital of Ireland for 1,500 years. In Galway, the group will tour the coastal city's narrow streets and old wooden storefronts. The Cliffs of Moher, on the Atlantic Ocean, will offer one of the most spectacular views in all of Ireland.
Day six includes a stop in the village of Croom in County Limerick. That is the birthplace of Bishop Malone's grandfather, Samuel A. Malone, who came to the United States in the early 1890s and opened a blacksmith shop in Hamilton, Mass.
"He came over with nothing, little or no resources, but he was a smart guy and opened up a blacksmith shop in an area where there were many horse farms. He did very, very well as a blacksmith. He sent both my father and his brother to Boston College High School, and Boston College. He came from nothing but worked hard," the bishop said.
Bishop Malone has been to Rome many times for meetings at the Vatican. In his six years as a member of the board for Catholic Relief Services, his work took him to places such as the Congo, Bangladesh, Nepal and El Salvador. World Youth Day celebrations brought him to Germany, Spain and Poland. "I've rarely been out of the country for a vacation. It's been mostly church-related travel all these years. I've had this longing to go to Ireland for years and years and years."
In late October, much of Ireland experiences daytime high temperatures in the mid-50s. The weather will be appropriate for a walking tour of Dublin, which will include a stop at the famous well where St. Patrick baptized many converts. The pilgrimage will also include a stop in Kildare to follow in the footsteps of St. Brigid. At Blarney Castle, travelers will have the chance to kiss the legendary Stone of Eloquence.
Each day includes Mass and sightseeing as a group but, on many days, there will also be time for travelers to explore on their own. "We are really looking forward to it," said Bishop Malone. "I think it's going to be wonderful. Everyone knows the Irish countryside is glorious, just beautiful, and I'm told the people are incredibly warm and welcoming."
For more information and reservations, contact Marianna Pisano at Unitours Incorporated by calling 1-800-777-7432. You may also book online or view the full brochure at http://bit.ly/BishopMaloneIreland.