Veterans of the Military

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 Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs

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.

Sample Pilgrimage Program

The actual program schedule varies according to length of the pilgrimage and days of the week. (E.g.; A Papal Audience is possible only on Wednesdays). This example is provided to give the pilgrim a general idea of the pilgrimage content. Your program will have differences.

Day 1 Leave USA for Rome

Day 2 Arrive Rome

  • 11:00 Arrival at Fiumicino Airport (Rome)
  • 12:00 Noon Bus departs for Assisi
    Arrive at Casa Papa Giovanni (CPG)
    Riposo
  • 4:00PM Orientation in CPG Chapel
    Prayer with Tau ritual
    Walk through piazza to La Rocca
    Historical visit
    Prayer: Brokenness and Healing
    Personal visit
  • 07:30 Supper (Cena)

Day 3 Free

Day 4

  • 07:00AM Breakfast
  • 08:15 Walk to Porziuncola
  • 08:30 Eucharist ion the Porziuncola
    Continue historical visit
    Personal time
  • 12:00 PM Picnic ritual
  • 12:45 Walk to San Rufino d'Arce and La Maddelana
  • 01:30 Historical visit and ritual; of Fortini
    Personal time
  • 03:15 Taxi to San Damiano
    Historical visit and ritual
  • 07:30 Cena
  • 09:00 Rooftop conversation and feedback (optional)

Day 5 Free

Day 6

  • 07:45AM Breakfast
  • 08:30 Depart for Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi
  • 09:00 Eucharist at Tomb of St. Francis
    Historical visit
    Personal time
  • 01:00PM Pranco (Lunch) Festivo
    Free Afternoon
  • 06:00pm Optional Presentation on the San Damiano Crucifix
    Cena out at one's own expense
  • 09:00 Roof top conversation and feedback (optional)

Day 7 Free

Day 8

  • 07:00AM Breakfast
    Depart for St. Peter's for Papal audience
    Pranzo out on one's own expense
  • 01:30PM Meet at the Porta Angelica
    Depart for St. John Lateran
  • 02:30 Historical visit at St. John Lateran
    Ritual
    Walk to Coliseum
  • TBA Depart for St. Peter's Basilica
    Historical visit
    Personal time
  • 07:30 Cena
  • 09:00 Evaluation with closing Mass.

Day 9

  • 07:00AM Breakfast
    Luggage at front door
  • 07:30 Bus leaves for Fiumicino Airport, Rome
  • 11:50 Departure
2017 May 15 - 23 - Nine Days
Per person from USA. Includes airfare from New York City or Chicago (connecting flights not included) and all expenses except for a few meals. $1900 Although the cost of the pilgrimage is $3600 per person, we ask $1900 from veterans. Scholarships are available for Veterans only.
Single Room +$350
Spouse $3600

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.

 

2018 May 14-22 - Nine Days
Per person from USA. Includes airfare from New York City or Chicago (connecting flights not included) and all expenses except for a few meals. $1900 Although the cost of the pilgrimage is $3800 per person, we ask $1900 from veterans. Scholarships are available for Veterans only.
Single Room +$300
Spouse $3800

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.