Sacred Heart – Rome Pilgrimage 2016

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October 28
Arrived in Detroit around 1:30 Seattle times after a 9 hour flight from Rome.  A short time here then off to Seattle.  Can’t wait to share our experiences on November 6 – 9:45-10:45 in the parish hall.

Blessings, Father Steve


Photo: In Rome airport waiting to come home, Pilgrims eager to come home.



October 27
Everyone had a great day.  Now we start packing and getting ready to leave tomorrow.


Photo: Icon of St. Gemma, The Forum in Rome, Sacred Heart statue in the sisters’ chapel where we are staying, part of the Vatican City wall. 


October 26
Wednesday we went to the papal audience to see Pope Frances. There were about 40,000 people there. We got good seats in the piazza of St. Peter’s. He drove right by where we were standing and we have some great pictures. Then we listened to his talk and received his blessing (which he extended to all our families and especially to young people and the sick). Then almost as soon as he finished, it began to RAIN.

After lunch we went to the catacombs of St. Domitilla–there are 63 catacombs in Rome–which is a unique one because it is all underground including a church where we celebrated Mass after the tour. We remembered all the dead at this Mass There are 11 miles if catacombs there.

Then we went to the North American College–the seminary for American seminarians in Rome. It is on the Giancolo hill overlooking St. Peter’s. Tyler Johnson who is a Seattle seminarian gave us a wonderful tour and shared part of his vocation story with us. We gave him our blessing and went on the rooftop terrace for incredible view and pictures of Rome. The pilgrims returned to the guesthouse where we are staying.  However, I took Tyler and Father Michael Dion (another Seattle priest who was ordained last June and is completing an advanced degree in theology this year in Rome) out for dinner. We had a great time talking about their studies and experience in Rome and got up on news from home.

The other excitement last night was feeling the tremors of an earthquake that hit northern Italy–we felt it twice here as well–although no damage in Rome as far as we know. Tomorrow is a “free” day so people are going to various sites here and in other parts of Italy.  We pray for you at Mass every day and ask for your prayers.

Blessings, Father Steve




Photo: Papa Francesco!  Underground basilica at St. Domitilla catacombs, view of St. Peter’s from North American College, courtyard at North American College, waiting for Pope Francis to arrive.



October 25
Today we spent the day in Siena and had a wonderful tour of the city.  We went to the Duomo (cathedral) which for only 9 weeks out of the year displays the incredible floors with intricate marble “graffiti” in various colors of marble.  We celebrated Mass at St. Dominic church which is where St. Catherine belonged when she was alive (14th century).  Father Brad Hagelin and his mother and some pilgrims from Slovakia joined us.  We stopped at a winery near San Gemiango for a brief wine tasting on our way back to Rome.  Tomorrow we look forward to the audience with Pope Francis and a tour and Mass at the catacombs of St. Domitilla.  In the late afternoon one of our Seattle seminarians will give us a tour of the North American College (seminary for Americans in Rome).  We continue to experience incredible blessings and continue our prayers for all of you.

Blessings, Father Steve


Photo: View of Siena, Siena Duomo with self portrait of Rafael (in front row right), City call tower in Siena, Façade of Duomo (Catherdral) in Siena, Doorway in Siena, Worker on scallfold inside Siena Duomo


October 24
Today we spent at St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major here in Rome.  St. Paul is also a Benedictine monastery where we celebrated Mass in the St. Benedict Chapel.  We saw the tomb of St. Paul and saw all the mosaic medallions of all the popes–a real sense of our history.  St. Paul is my favorite of the four major Roman basilicas.  St. Mary Major is the oldest church dedicated to Mary in Rome–and there are many churches dedicated to Mary in Rome.  We saw a 7th century icon of Mary which has always been at St. Mary Major.  I have had some great opportunities to teach about our faith and its history.  Many of the pilgrims have told me how much they are learning and how glad they are to be here.  Tomorrow we are going to the wonderful city of Siena where we will celebrate Mass at St. Dominic church which was the parish of St. Catherine.  We pray of all of you at Mass–please pray for us.

Blessings, Father Steve


Photo: Detail of the Paschal candle holder at St. Paul


October 23
We had a wonderful day in Assisi–about two and a half hours on the bus to arrive.  We began at Mary Queen of the Angles then basilica of Santa Chiara (Saint Clarie) where we saw her body.  Then on to basilica of St. Francis where we celebrated Mass in the Peace Chapel.  Bishop Domenico Sorrentino, the bishop of Naples joined us for Mass.  We had a connection through Father Ed White at St. Stephen the Martyr parish in Renton.  Bishop Domenico gave a beautiful homily reminding us that we are all members of the Body of Christ.  He said all of us have the same first name: Jesus.  We also visited the place inside the church where St. Frances is buried.  Sixty Franciscan friars from 25 countries live there and do ministry.  We finished with a wonderful meal at La Quiete–a wonderful family restaurant and enoteca.  We laughed a lot and shared great stores.  We got back here in Rome about 10pm.  Tomorrow we see St. Paul outside the walls and St. Mary Major, with a little free time.  We continue to feel blessed and continue to remember all of you in prayer.

Blessings, Father Steve


Photos from top left: St. Mary of the Angels, Basilica of Saint Claire in Assisi, Peace Chapel in basilica of St. Francis where we had Mass, Holy doors at basilica of St. Francis, Portciuncula–the little church that St. Francis rebuilt, Mass at Peace Chapel, Gate into Assisi, in Assisi.


October 22
Celebrated Mass at St. John Lateran on the Feast Day of St. John Paul II.  There was another pilgrim group from one diocese from Switzerland who were also there praying – 800 pilgrims including 23 priests–their praying and singing were incredible.  There are 628 churches in Rome, we visited 6 today, including Church of St. Bartholomew on the island in the Tiber river.  St. Bartholomew entrusted to the St. Egidio Society and dedicated to modern martyrs–including the priest Father Jacques in France who was martyred a few weeks ago.  Our pilgrims continue to have incredible encounters with our merciful Father.  Tomorrow we are going to spend the day in Assisi. We pray for all of you and ask for your prayers as well.

Blessings, Father Steve

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Tour guide Elena with our pilgrims at St. John Lateran.

 Photos from top left: Walking through the Holy Doors at St. John Lateran basilica (cathedral), St. Bartholomew and St. Egidio Society, tour guide Elena with our pilgrims at St. John Lateran.


October 21
Fr. Steve saying mass at the Crypt Chapel at St. Peter’s.



October 20
First day in Rome we visited Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza, Spanish Steps then we checked into the guesthouse run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of the Angels, only minutes from the Vatican. Tomorrow we will Celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s.



October 19
Pilgrims at SeaTac and in Detroit ready to fly to Rome.  Father Brad Hagelin, pastor of St. Luke in Shoreline, and his mother are on our flight.

Blessing and prayers, Father Steve




October 19th thru October 28th.
The Sacred Heart pilgrims are busily getting ready for departure on Wednesday, October 19. We will fly on Delta from Seattle to Rome via a stopover in Detroit. At the Masses this past weekend, several parishioners wrote down prayer requests that we are taking with us to pray for parishioners’ intentions. Please keep us in your prayers as well. We hope to post pictures and comments every day as we can. Have a blessed day.

Father Steve