Friday, May 16, 2014

Lourdes: 56th International Military Pilgrimage

....or "the Pilgrimage that we didn't plan to make...."

........UNTIL we received an email from our first priest.
Father Kleffman, US Army (retired), served as the Army
chaplain in Hohenfels, Germany. When Flint proposed, he (Flint) began
handing me booklets on how to become Catholic. After our marriage, we
met weekly with Father Kleffman as I learned more about Catholicism. He guided
me through the initial Sacraments and blessed our marriage. With overlapping dates in
Lourdes, how could we NOT make a special point to be with someone who remains
so dear to our hearts?
Our final evening included our visit with  Father Kleffman.

(If you enlarge this picture, and look at the outline above my head on the column,
you will see a figure that resembles the Madonna and Child. The waiters called our attention to it.)
This was our first time to stay in Hotel Moderne. I highly recommend it. Great staff, beautiful building, and
excellent location.)
Flint had received an earlier email from the Knights of Columbus asking for volunteers. He was the final Knight to apply. At times, it was as if we were on different pilgrimages as he served in a unique capacity. I was honored to meet some of our Wounded Warriors, and Flint thought I managed to get in some nurturing although I wasn't a 'real' volunteer.
Following the Welcome and Mass for American Pilgrims
The Knights Honor Guard with Bishop Spencer of the

With our new Sicilian friend who was in our tour group.

Processions:  Outdoor, Indoor, in the Streets....

English-Speaking Mass with Great Britain and Ireland

Stations of the Cross

Maura, an Irish lady, and I walked the Stations together.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Not a cloud in the sky for three days!

The Spanish soldiers sang while posing for their picture.

Flags of participating countries fly only during the PMI.
It seems that fewer countries participated than in previous years.

A sign in our hotel announced the tour of Dr. Scott Hahn, noted author and convert. He and his wife
were leading a group to Fatima, Avila, and Lourdes. Dr. Hahn was gracious enough to pose with
us as we met him at the door. I met his dear wife, Kimberly, in the lobby, and we both met
one of his wonderful sons.

Another special moment was meeting Supreme Knight of Columbus, Carl Anderson, at a reception.

Gary, the District Deputy of Europe, who we have now seen at several KofC events,
 and Kevin who we met last year. Marlys, the coordinator of the US Delegation, nailed it when she said that the PMI is like home week. We saw many familiar faces.

Our dining companions
in our 'new' dining room.
This came about as Flint seldom ate with the group since he had to be elsewhere. On the
day we did manage a meal together, we sat at a table for two against the wall. However, when the
two women who had been seated there for a couple of meals came in, they were not happy. The hotel people asked if we would move.
Our new found friends cornered the hotel people and asked if they could join us. Management complied, and we certainly
enjoyed their company.

When Father Kleffman joined us, the priest accompanying the Scott
Hahn entourage stopped by our table to visit after he had blessed
articles for his group. We were trying to be polite and not talk during the blessing. Every time
we thought he had finished, he blessed some more. Father Kleffman's
humor remains....."I think he used the long form!"

We have been blessed beyond measure to make multiple pilgrimage to Lourdes.
You who read this, may you find the peace of Lourdes in your heart today. It is a place like no other.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

St. Bernadette, pray for us!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Planeta Estate: Wine Tasting

22 March 2014

The table is set.

Some sparkling

Tour of Vineyards

We visited Cantina Feudo di Mezza.
The walls were created as workers cleared the fields.


Thank you, Tony and Josie!
We enjoyed the day.

End of a very pleasant tasting....or not....
We picked up our order today!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

St.Anastasia - Special Appearance!

23 March 2014

 With the visit of the Franciscan Missionaries, Sunday Mass was offered with a special appearance of the beautiful statue of Motta's Patron Saint, Anastasia. Usually saints appear only on their day or maybe three days at most. Cecilia and I rushed into town after church on base not wanting to miss this special occasion. 

(I saw her one time during the day a year or so ago. Cecilia and I returned to town that same evening, but could not even get through the baton twirlers who performed in the street. Cecilia questioned if St. Anastasia might be the patron saint of majorettes!)
We sat in two of the few remaining chairs as we had
arrived early. Excellent choice as we didn't know how she would be
presented. The church was packed - seated and standing. And, we were graciously
greeted by those we had met a few days ago plus Mario and Antonella.

St. Anastasia's entrance was dramatic.
The doors over a side altar opened slowly......

.......the statue
slowly slid forward.
So dramatic; so beautiful!

Since the crowd was so large, and we had attended an
earlier service, we opted to enjoy the view of the valley.....

.....and eat breakfast. Probably a smart move as we heard later that
the service lasted three hours. Two little ladies appreciated
 the chairs we offered them.

It's what rugby players eat for breakfast!
Gelato tucked into brioche!

Friday, April 4, 2014

St. Joseph's Day.....Procession and Bells!

19 March 2014

Flint and I decided to walk into town to find the San Guiseppe procession where we knew we could greet the Franciscan Missionaries again, then grab a bite to eat. Only in Sicily! Who knew that this evening would become one of our most memorable EVER!
As we strolled into town overlooking the valley, the crispelli vendor had just set up. We bought a Euro's worth, sat on a bench to munch on a couple. (The benches face the street rather than the gorgeous valley.)

Fireworks caught our attention in a few minutes. We tracked them down to find the procession, Mario, Antonella, Agata, the priests and the missionaries! It didn't take much persuading for Flint to grab the rope that pulls the carriage that also has a tractor and driver hidden underneath. One of the priests on the carriage rings a bell for stops and starts. I took a few pics and found a place on the rope, too.

Stop for pyrotechnics
The fireworks alert people so they can come outside.

A fireman stands near me as I take the pic. 

Slowly turning a corner

Mario asked us to come with him, and we
walked quickly up the street
and climbed some very narrow
steps up to the top of the bell tower.

With remaining crispelli still in hand.

Mario with the pros!

Bells and fireworks as St. Joseph enters the church!

(My thought was that my tinnitus would be cured when I could hear
again, but no.....the ears still buzz.)

Thank you, Mario, for the video and an evening to remember!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Blessings Upon Blessings in a Weekend

Since this is the Lenten season, our focus is on Christ's gift to us; therefore, our activities tend to reflect this. Some days have gone over and above with blessings and encounters with some outstanding  people who live in service to our Saviour.

Saturday Morning:  

Catholic Women of the Chapel

Mary, Queen of Peace - Stations of the Cross
We followed John Paul II's Biblical Way of the Cross that
varied from the traditional Way.
Lani, our president, led the way!

Life-size nativity in a cave

Representing the risen Christ

Rather stark Stations with Etna in the distance

Sunday Morning:  

Little Sisters of the Poor


celebrate their Patron, St. Joseph
Beautiful Mass
Overflowing  Chapel

First time meeting the new Bishop of Acireale

With the Madre and Knights of Malta

Sunday Evening:

Franciscan Missionaries Visit our

Immaculate Conception Parish Community

Father  Frank and Dana

 The Franciscan Missionaries
take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Their mission is to evangelize, and they were in Motta to ring
every doorbell.

 Sister and Agata, translator


Joyful singing!

After the pot luck and getting to know one another

Another joyful song before we bid, 'Farewell!'
(Little did we know that we had quite a week ahead!
More to come!)