The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” -- St. Augustine

Thursday, August 3, 2017

St. Patrick’s Cathedral New York City, New York

 (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Destination: St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City may be the most famous Catholic church in the United States. Even Pope Francis spent time there in prayer when he visted the U.S. in 2015.
Masses are offered several times daily. Check the website (below) to make your plans. There is also Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, 1-6 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Why to go: St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City may be the most famous Catholic church in the United States. The cornerstone was laid in 1858 and  the church opened in 1879. New York Archbishop John Hughes planned the cathedral. It was paid for by contributions from thousands of poor immigrants and by 103 prominent citizens who pledged $1,000 each.
Hours: The cathedral is open 6:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. daily except on the night of the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, when it closes at 7 p.m. The gift shop in the cathedral is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.The Storefront gift shop at 15 East 51st St. is open daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Because the cathedral is open to guests even during Masses and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, youngsters should be quiet while visiting.
Info: Address — St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue between 50th and 51st streets, New York, NY 10022  Phone — 212/753-2261    Website —
— Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Thursday, July 6, 2017

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun -- Tucson, Ariz.

(CNS photos/Nancy Wiechec)
Destination: Despite the May 29 fire (see the June 9 Nation/World section) that severely damaged the adobe structure and frescoes by artist Ted DeGrazia in the Mission in the Sun, it’s still well worth visiting the late artist’s Gallery in the Sun outside Tucson, Ariz.
Masses are not offered in the nondenominational Mission in the Sun that DeGrazia built in 1952 to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe and Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Kino (see painting, right). There are Mass options in nearby Tucson, though.

LEFT: “Altar Valley Padre Kino Entrada 1687.” It is part of the Padre Kino Collection at the gallery.

Why to go: There are six permanent collections at the gallery, among them DeGrazia and Padre Kino, Retrospective Collection, and DeGrazia Paints the Yaqui Easter.
This year, the rotating collection, “The Way of the Cross”
 remains open until Aug. 30.
The influence of DeGrazia’s Catholic upbringing — he stopped practicing as an adult — are evident in the many Catholic and Christian themes in his work.
George Maki, and his son, Chris, take in Ted
DeGrazia’s Way of the Cross series at the
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. The artist painted
the series in 1964 for the Newman Center
at the University of Arizona.
The mission was the first structure he built on the 10 acres in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. His home and galleries came later. His original “Little Gallery” now hosts exhibits of visiting artists, a tradition begun by his wife, Marion, after his death in 1982.
Hours: The gallery and grounds are open daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Of course.
Info: Address — DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, 6300 N. Swan, Tucson, AZ 85718 n    Phone — 520/299-9191 n   Website —

— Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Vatican Museums -- Rome, Italy

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Destination: If you’re heading to Rome in the next several weeks, a two-part exhibition — one at the Vatican and the other at the Jewish Museum of Rome — explores the significance of the menorah.
Masses are frequent in Rome. Check on the web for a location convenient for you.

Photo: A journalist looks at a replica of the 1st-century Arch of Titus, showing Roman soldiers carrying the menorah, in a exhibition at the Vatican May 15. The replica is the central motif in a two-part exhibition on the menorah at the Vatican and at the Jewish Museum in Rome. 

Why to go:  From a coin minted in the century before Christ’s birth to a 1987 Israeli comic book featuring a superhero with a menorah on his chest, the exhibit, “The Menorah: Worship, History and Myth,” documents the use of the seven-branched candelabra both as a religious item and a symbol of Jewish identity.
Among the pieces displayed at the Jewish Museum stands a towering mosaic inscription describing treasures buried at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome. Dating from the 13th century, while the Crusades were raging, the mosaic’s 37-line inventory includes “the golden candelabrum” Titus brought to Rome.
The exhibit prominently features a replica of the 1st-century Arch of Titus, showing Roman soldiers carrying the menorah and other treasures into Rome. They also give a nod to the centuries-old legend that the Vatican is hiding the golden menorah from the Temple of Jerusalem.
Francesco Leone, the art historian who prepared the exhibit catalogue, told Catholic News Service the most historically reliable explanation of the Temple menorah’s fate is that it was taken as booty from Rome by the Vandals or Goths before the end of the fifth century and melted down.
Admission: The exhibit is scheduled to be open through July 23. One ticket — 25 euros — includes admission to the main part of the exhibit in the Charlemagne Wing just off St. Peter’s Square and to the Jewish Museum, located about a mile away at Rome’s main synagogue.
Hours vary at each museum and the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays while the Jewish Museum is closed Saturdays.  Check details for both venues at the Vatican Museums website (below).
(Grand) Kid friendly: Of course.
Info: Address — Vatican Museums, Viale Vaticano, 00165 Rome
Phone — +39 06 69884676 or +39 06 69883145
Website —
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Xaverian Mission Center Our Lady of Fatima Shrine -- Holliston, Mass.

(Observer screen grab/ Facebook:
Our Lady of Fatima Shrine a ministry
of the Xaverian Missionaries)
Destination: If you plan a trip east during the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance in Fatima, Portugal, a visit to Our Lady of Fatima Shrine might make a good spiritual rest stop.
The Xaverian Missionaries, who maintain the shrine, are a religious community of priests and brothers founded in 1895 by Saint Guido M. Conforti, who was inspired by the life and dreams of St. Francis Xavier.
Masses are Sunday, 11 a.m. (Shrine Church); Monday–Saturday,  Morning: 7:30 am (House Chapel); Tuesday, 7 p.m. for vocations (House Chapel); Wednesday,  7:30 p.m. (Shrine Church); Saturday, 10 a.m. Votive Mass to Our Lady (Shrine Church).
Why to go: Since it opened in 1947, its Facebook page says, “the shrine is a place of prayer and education for thousands of people annually.” Parish groups come for summer pilgrimages. In December there are Christmas lights that draw thousands. Throughout the year the Xaverian Missionaries hold education programs and retreats.
Special events: Fatima Days will resume in May and continue until October on the 13th of each month with a 7p.m. Liturgy of the Eucharist; 8 p.m. outdoor candlelight rosary with prayer of the Hail Mary in the different languages of the participants; 8:45–9:30 p.m. Fraternal Agape in the Shrine Hall (coffee, tea, cookies etc.) On May 13, there will also be a 6:30 p.m. praise and song gathering.
Amenities: The shrine is open daily, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Our Lady of Fatima Gift Shop is open 11a.m.– 6 p.m.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Absolutely.
Info: Address — Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, 101 Summer St., Holliston, MA 01746
Phone — 508/429-2144
Website —
Facebook — Our Lady of Fatima Shrine a ministry of the Xaverian Missionaries
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

St. Anthony Franciscan Monastery Estate -- Kennebunkport, Maine

(Observer photos/
Destination: Established in 1947, St. Anthony Franciscan Monastery is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.This could be a rest stop on a trip to Maine  or to other East Coast destinations, such as Boston. Beginning in April, the neighboring Guest House operated by the friars, will be open again. Both monastery and Guest House details are on the Guest House website.
Masses are offered weekdays at 7:30 a.m.; Wednesday and Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.; and Sunday, 8, 10  and 11:15 a.m.
Why to go: The Friars welcome visitors to view the quiet beauty of riverside walking paths, English-style gardens, woodlands, and outdoor chapels. The walking path is paved, has views of the river, and benches. A “Walking Tour of the Shrines” brochure is available at the Franciscan Guest House front desk.
Originally the site was a private estate, with landscaping organized by Frederick Law Olmsted Brothers, designers of Central Park in New York City.
In 1947,  the Lithuanian Friars of St. Casimir who had fled the Soviet Invasion of Lithuania, bought the estate. It became a religious center for the friars, the Lithuanian diaspora, and many others.
In the 1950s the friars built St. Anthony’s high school primarily for boys of Lithuanian Heritage, and it remained open until 1969. Some of the friars who served as both administrators and teachers still live at the monastery.  When the high school closed, the property became a year round hotel, guest house and retreat center.
The friars’ Lithuanian heritage lives on in guest house breakfast breads, through informal language lessons for the guests, and in cultural events throughout the year.
Amenities: A gift shop is located under the chapel and is open from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 pm daily from March 1 to Dec. 31.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Absolutely.
Info: Address —  Franciscan Guest House, 26 Beach Ave., Kennebunkport, ME 04043
Phone — 207/967-4865
Website —
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Divine Mercy Cross Stitch -- Monastery of the Holy Cross, Chicago

(Observer photo/
Destination: A hand made cross stitch of the Image of the Divine Mercy, measuring 84 inches by 40 inches, will visit the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago during Lent and through the Octave of Easter. The visit will culminate with Vespers on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23.
Masses are offered at the monastery at 10 a.m. Sunday and 6:35 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
Why to go: The Divine Mercy cross stitch, was crafted by Brigitta Gedvillas (right in photo) with the assistance of her husband, Jerry, of Houghton, Mich., in the Diocese of Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She began the work in 2005 and they finished in 2013. It contains 237 colors and 13.52 miles of floss. The computer generated pattern for the image consisted of 500 sheets of paper and 10 rolls of tape.
During the eight years of its fabrication, Brigitta faithfully prayed for the poor souls in purgatory as the 514,503 stitches of the image took shape.  Following in the footsteps of St. Faustina, who first received the image from Jesus in a 1931 vision, to make this mystery of His Divine Love known to the world, Brigitta  says she experienced great consolation and grace from God while enduring spiritual attacks on her faith and life from the devil, because of her cooperation with the dictate and desire of God: “My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy” (from the Diary of St. Faustina, # 699).
The monastery church will be open for private prayer and veneration of the Divine Mercy cross stitch from Ash Wednesday, March 1 through Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23, Monday through Saturday, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., with Vespers chanted daily at 5:15 p.m. with the monks.
Public prayers scheduled on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23, include Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 3 p.m., Chaplet of the Divine Mercy at 4:30 p.m., Solemn Vespers at 5:15 p.m. and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 5:40 p.m.
This extraordinary display of the Divine Mercy Image is free and open to the public.  All are welcome and invited.
Admission is free and parking is available on the street and on the monastery grounds.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Of course, but remind them this is a working monastery and that prayer is an important part of the monks’ lives.
Info: Address — Monastery of the Holy Cross, 3111 S.  Aberdeen Street, Chicago, IL  60608
Phone — 773/ 927-7424
Website —
— Compiled by Sharon Boehlefeld
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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Immaculate Conception of The Blessed Virgin Mary - Panna Maria, Texas

(Photo provided)
Destination: Should your travels take you to Texas, you may want to plan a stop to see the oldest Polish Catholic Church in the U.S., Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Panna Maria, Texas. The town’s name, by the way, means Virgin Mary.
Masses are offered in English now at 9 a.m. Sunday; 5:30 p.m. Monday; 7:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 5 p.m. Saturday.
Why to go: While Texas may not have as many folks of Polish descent as other parts of the country (including our own Rockford Diocese), the settlers of Panna Maria were among the first. And the town is proud of its heritage. The parish is one of the historic highlights on its website. (Don’t be surprised that it isn’t a parish-only site, but it is the one listed by the Archdiocese of San Antonio.)
The first settlers left Upper Silesia, Poland on Sept. 26, 1854, led by Father Leopold Moczygemba. The 150 Polish immigrants arrived in Texas on Christmas Eve the same year. At the spot of what would become Panna Maria, Father Moczygemba celebrated a midnight Mass of Thanksgiving under the town’s now-famous Oak Tree. Several groups of Silesian Polish immigrants followed them in the years soon after the town was founded.
On Aug. 14, 1855, Father Moczygemba blessed the cornerstone of the church. On Sept 29, 1856, he consecrated the parish, the first permanent Polish Catholic church in the United States. The community also founded the first Polish Catholic school a few years later.
The original church burned down after being struck by lightning on Aug. 15, 1875. A new church was built within two years and remains in use today.
Special events: A Homecoming Turkey Dinner is held on the second Sunday of October every year. The turkey is cooked over open wood fires throughout the night before. Meals are served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Panna Maria Hall.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Absolutely.
Info: Address —  Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Farm Road 81, Panna Maria, TX 78144
Phone — 830/780-2748
Website —
— Compiled by Sharon Boehlefeld
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