The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. - G.K. Chesterton

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.
Send Destinations ideas to

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
Send Destinations ideas to

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
Send Destinations ideas to

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament -- Hanceville, Ala.

(Observer photos/
Destination: The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament was the home of Mother Angelica, the founder of the EWTN media ministry, and of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. The shrine is about an hour away from the EWTN studios.
Masses are offered Mondays at 7 a.m.; Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7 a.m. and noon; and Sundays at 7 and 10 a.m.
Why to go: The shrine church and monastery are modeled on Italian churches of the 13th century, when St. Francis began his evangelism and founded his orders. The shrine’s piazza allows vistors to make a symbolic transition from their hectic day-to-day lives to the silence of prayer and liturgy.
A monstrance, more than 7 feet tall, dominates the main church and makes the Blessed Sacrament visible to vistors in the church and the nuns who live there, but who pray on the other side of the reredos (the decorative altar screen).
The lower crypt chapel houses crypts of deceased Poor Clare nuns. Visitors are welcome to pray there.
Another stop: If you plan to visit the shrine, the EWTN studios are also open. You can tour the facilities or sit in on show tapings. The EWTN grounds are also home to the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA) Friary.
You can arrange pilgrimages for groups or individuals at either place by emailing or phoning, 205/271-2966.
Amenities: The El NiƱo Gift Shop at the shrine is open Monday through Saturday, 8:15 a.m-4:45 p.m. (The Religious Catalogue Shoppe at EWTN is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.)
(Grand) Kid friendly: The whole family is welcome, but everyone is asked to be silent in the main church and lower crypt church. Comfortable dress is fine, but sleeveless tops, tank tops, shorts, or skirts above the knee are discouraged. Women may wear slacks or jeans. Visitors are asked not to leave Mass in the main church until exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the nuns have finished singing. Taking photos is also prohibited in the churches.
Info: Address —  Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, 3222 County Road 548, Hanceville, AL 35077  Phone — 205/271-2917 Website —
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
Send Destinations ideas to

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shrine of Our Lady of the Island -- Manorville, N.Y.

 (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Destination: Missionaries of the Company of Mary, who were founded by St. Louis de Montfort in 1705, established the shrine in the 1950s to encourage Marian devotion and to renew Catholic spirituality in the Diocese of Rockville Center. Now the shrine is open to all. Its statue of Our Lady and the Child (above) is atop the Rock is just one of many outdoor sculptures.
Masses are offered daily at 11:30 a.m. at the shrine. Starting in late April, Sunday Mass is offered outside at the Rock, one of the highest points on Long Island. A holy hour begins at 3 p.m. on Sundays.
Why to go: The shrine features outdoor walks for both the rosary and the stations of the cross, as well as an “Avenue of the Saints.” There are also several other statues on the grounds and the shrine to Our Lady, which has nearby parking.
Special events: The shrine is active with retreats, pilgrimages, prayer and other group meetings. But special events in the near future include:
> Dec. 11, after 11:30 a.m. Mass, a dramatization of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s meeting with St. Juan Diego
> Dec. 12,  4:30 p.m., Antorcha Guadalupana with a procession, traditional dances and Spanish Mass
> Dec. 18, 2 p.m., Songs of the Season with a handbell choir.
Throughout Advent, the shrine hosts Carols and Cocoa in the coffee shop after Sunday Mass for a sing-along with others.
More activities are listed on the shrine website.
Amenities: On the grounds, there are a gift shop featuring religious items from around the world, a coffee shop and reception area, all open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The shrine grounds are open from sunrise to sunset daily, although the buildings are closed except for Mass a few days of the year. Check the calendar on the website before planning your trip.
(Grand) Kid friendly: There is a pavilion for picnicking in nice weather, making it a good place to stop on a road trip.
Info: Address — Shrine of Our Lady of the Island, 258 Eastport Manor Road, Manorville, NY 11949 n Phone — 631/325-0661 n Website —
— Compiled by Sharon Boehlefeld

Send Destinations ideas to

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Medieval Art Exhibit -- Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Md.

(CNS photo/courtesy Museum Boijmans Van
Beuningen, Rotterdam/Studio Tromp, Rotterdam)
Destination: A 500-year-old oil painting of “The Glorification of the Virgin” (left) now on display at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore is inspired by John’s apocalyptic vision of a woman “clothed with the sun.” The painting is part of a new exhibit, “A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Europe,” at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.
Masses are offered at several churches in the area. To find one that best fits your schedule, check
Why to go: “The Glorification of the Virgin” by Geertgen tot Sint Jans of the Netherlands, is half of a diptych on loan from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
A 15th century German censer features intersecting raised bands that mimic the complex vaulting systems used in late Gothic churches, and openwork areas reminiscent of the tracery found in the windows of these buildings.
They are just two of more than 100 works of stained glass, precious metals, ivories, tapestries, paintings, prints and illuminated manuscripts from 25 collections in the U.S. and around the world.
The free exhibition is at the Walters Art Museum through Jan. 8, 2017. It was organized by the Walters in partnership with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla., where it will be on display Feb. 4 through April 20.
Because the museum is in three adjacent buildings, check the website (below) for parking and visitor information.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Museums are always kid friendly.
Info: Address —  The Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone — 410-547-9000
Website —
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
Send Destinations ideas to

Thursday, October 6, 2016

St. Thomas More Exhibit -- St. John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

(CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Destination: An exhibit featuring artifacts revolving around St. Thomas More has opened at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. Titled “God’s Servant First: The Life and Legacy of Thomas More,” the exhibit runs through March 31, 2017. The title comes from what are believed to be More’s last words before he was beheaded: “I die the king’s good servant, and God’s servant first.”
Masses are offered at the shrine Monday through Saturday, 12 noon (preceded by the Angelus); and Sunday, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Photo: A display depicting the 1535 execution of St. Thomas More by Henry VIII is seen at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington Sept. 15. An exhibit of artifacts associated with the saint be open daily at the shrine until March 31, 2017. Why to go: St. Thomas More, a lawyer and the first layman to serve as chancellor of England, had balked at helping Henry VIII obtain an annulment so he could marry Anne Boleyn. After the pope denied the annulment, Henry declared himself head of the church in England, conferring upon himself the power to divorce and marry whomever he pleased.  More resigned his position as chancellor to the throne to avoid being forced to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the church. More also refused to sign a document acknowledging Henry’s authority. His actions led to his beheading. He has since been seen as a champion of conscience rights.
Nearly all of the 60 or so items in the exhibit come from Stonyhurst College in England, according to Jan Graffius, the curator of collections at Stonyhurst, a Jesuit institution. The Knights of Columbus and Stonyhurst’s Christian Heritage Center organized the exhibit and are its sponsors.
The exhibit comes during the golden anniversary of the 1966 film biography of St. Thomas More, “A Man for All Seasons.” The movie was nominated for eight Oscars and won six, including Best Picture. It also won five British Academy Film Awards and four Golden Globes, as well as a Best Actor award for Scofield at the Moscow International Film Festival.
(Grand) Kid friendly: As a regular stop on the Rockford Diocese’s March for Life pilgrimage, the St. John Paul II shrine has welcomed  — and impressed — many young people.
Info: Address — St. John Paul II National Shrine, 3900 Harewood Road NE, Washington, DC 20017 n Phone — 202/635-5400 n Website —
— Mark Pattison,  CNS
Send Destinations ideas to