By Sister Julie Myers, OSF
I consider myself a “home-potato”! I am pretty content to stay home and live life doing my best for others. Oh, I travel some, but usually drivable distances not all that far from home and I never stay away longer than 10 days. Today I find myself packing for the trip of a lifetime: Italy—and I’m not talking supper at Olive Garden!!
My congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania, is sending me, along with two other Sisters, on a Franciscan Study Pilgrimage where we will experience—physically, mentally, and spiritually—the many places of our Franciscan history. We begin with my dearest friend driving us to the Detroit airport where we will board a huge airbus and fly into Rome, Italy. Italy is 6 hours ahead of Ohio, so God help me if I cannot sleep on the plane! There we join up with 19 other “pilgrims” and three staff (Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM, Fr. André Cirino, OFM, and Sr. Frances Teresa Downing, OSC) of the Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs.
We will spend four full days (September 14-17) in Rome including an opportunity for a Papal audience. I’m thinking after a day in the Sistine Chapel, I will no longer fret about decorating and tending to our community’s Queen of Peace Chapel again! From September 18-22, we will visit the sites of Rieti Valley and then from September 22-October 7, we experience Assisi! The absolute highlight for me will be experiencing the Transitus of St Francis on October 3rd and the Feast of St. Francis on October 4th in Assisi. Although I will dearly miss celebrating these sacred services with my Sisters at our Motherhouse, I will actually be standing and kneeling in the holy space of Francis. How wild is that? My heart cannot comprehend that right now!
For a Franciscan, this pilgrimage is a profound gift and one that tends to transform the spirit and humble the heart of the one willing to be open to God’s guidance. It is not a tour, were I will flit from site to site, but a pilgrim’s journey to experience, study, pray and contemplate the land that gave birth to the Franciscan movement. I will do my best to post some pictures and document my journey on Facebook, but I also know the challenge is to “unplug” and be openly present to the sights, sounds, smells, and touch of St Francis and St Clare upon my very soul.
As I visit all the sacred spaces, I promise my prayers for my Sisters in community, my family, co-workers, friends, and you—a trusted reader of this Sylvania Franciscan Blog. Please keep me in your prayers as well.
Pax et bonum!!