Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs


Franciscan Pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome
for former Military Personnel

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Dear Friends,

St. Francis of Assisi knew from his experience that re-entering society after living in a life-threatening place is a most difficult journey for a human to make. St. Francis had to learn this painful lesson in his own life.

“In violence and where life is threatened” one can easily fall into “a culture of death” that questions God, goodness and the meaning of life.   Francis was a passionate soldier who fought against the army of Perugia and was captured and imprisoned. Yet through God’s grace he found life and goodness - God’s light scattered all of the darkness of his heart filling him with a great capacity to love and show compassion.

We think that the journeys of St. Francis and St. Clare through their own life threatening experiences may help you and your loved ones in trying to make sense out of all the good and bad that you have witnessed and felt while in the military. We invite you to walk with us for a while.  Together, we can experience God’s love, a healing of memories and a life in peace.

Fr. John Cella, OFM, Director Franicscan Pilgrimage Programs

Videos on the Veterans' Pilgrimage.

Having participated in the pilgrimage for military personnel, Deacon Rob Goodman, who served in the armed forces, give his reflection on the experience.
Fr. Conrad Targonski, OFM, reitred Military Chaplain discusses the phases many military personnel experience during their military career. Time: 3:09 VIdeo added June 4, 2014
Dr. Greg Masiello, PhD. talks about PTSD and how Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs can help deal with this trauma many of our returning troops are experiencing. Time:1:40 sec.

A Note from Major Greg Masiello, PhD

I’ve always been enamored with St. Francis of Assisi.  In fact, I once wrote a screenplay of a playboy reporter who has a run-in with Francis, leading him to Assisi in search of the saint.  Of course, he doesn’t find the man there but, rather, is transformed by the lifestyle St. Francis embraced and by those who continue on in his tradition.

They say if you’re going to write about something, it should be something you’re passionate about.  I suppose there is a life-lesson there although it was ultimately my intrigue of St. Francis that led me down that path.  You can imagine then how thrilled I was to be included in the Franciscan Pilgrimage Program for Veterans.  The fact that St. Francis himself was a soldier of war who likely suffered from the effects of PTSD adds to his mystique.  There is something about his struggles in war, seeing man’s inhumanity to man; spending time as a prisoner; ailing; and then, afterwards, searching for God in our world that brings him more to life for me.  There’s not much difference between his struggles then and the struggle of veterans today.   Although it is tough to imagine going to war with a neighboring city, remnants of war remain the same.  The fact that St. Francis traveled to the Middle East to broker peace for the crusades underscores these parallels if not highlights the paradox.  Many Christians and Muslims are still at odds with each other.  Even a fool for Christ, as Francis called himself, wasn’t able to stop this.  More striking were his other failings such as to have the order he founded rebel against him.  Even his eyesight and body eventually gave out on him.  Yet he emerged through the ashes of his life larger than life.  There is a life lesson in there somewhere—perhaps we should all strive to be so successful in our failings.  For that reason alone I take solace in the fact that my screenplay has only sat on a shelf all these years.



Each pilgrimage consists of input by well-prepared, trained staff • wholesome meals served family style • visits to sacred Christian and Franciscan places • solid historical information • free time • good fun with companion pilgrims • daily prayer and Eucharist at holy places • spiritual conferences • opportunities to enjoy local cafes and restaurants • time to revisit places of special meaning • suggestions on where to shop • time to enjoy the beautiful countryside and culture • time for quiet.

Full package prices include departure from United States airports. The Pilgrimage office will help make your travel arrangements • All airline taxes, security fees and airport taxes • Lodging in all cities • All gratuities for bus drivers, lodging, restaurants and luggage • Bus transfers and luggage handling • All group entrance fees • All taxi services in Assisi • All meals (except for a few meals, depending on the particular pilgrimage when pilgrims have some free time to explore an  area on their own) • Daily Mass and Rituals • Input and guidance of two qualified Pilgrimage Leaders.

2015 May 28 - June 5, 2015
Per person from USA. Includes airfare from New York City or Chicago (connecting flights not included) and all expenses except for a few meals. $1600
Single Room Supplement $350
Spouse $3600

A pilgrimage of this quality is valued at $3600. We are pleased to offer it to military personnel for $1500 from Chicago or New York City airports. Connecting flights not included.

The terrain in Assisi and Rome is uneven, making it difficult for handicapped mobility. "Barrier free" is not a description of Italy. People with physical handicaps will find the pilgrimage too difficult because of lack of accessibility.



Why do this?

Your service to our country has been one of sacrifice. It has taken its toll on your body, spirit, emotions and your faith.

You will take every opportunity to rebuild your life and insert yourself into civilian society. For some this will not be easy. Your faith got you through the challenges of military life. Let us help strengthen it for your exciting future.

You've sacrificed for us. Let us do something for you.

All Christian denominations are welcome. The faith stance will be based on Franciscan Spirituality.

The terrain in Assisi and Rome is uneven making it difficult for handicapped mobility. "Barrier free" is not a description of Italy.

To make the pilgrimage affordable, the out-of-pocket expense for military personel is about a third of the actual pilgrimage cost. We rely on contributions to this cause to make up the deficit.

A web site that might be heful for those interested in participating on this pilgrimage is
Student Veterans of America. .