The Overall Experience

This trip has been a blessing to remember. It all started in Bordeaux, France, where my classmates and I were welcomed by beautiful, loving sisters. The rooms were very comfortable, and my classmates and I had the privilege of having our own individual rooms. I had a fun and exciting time looking at the city’s unique buildings and amazing sights to see. Lourdes was a place of healing and reflection. Visiting Our Lady of Lourdes increased my faith in God because of its blessings upon it, such as the bath, rosary, holy water, and more. Carcassone was a place of Roman and Medieval history. It was obvious in its walls and the story it had. Its food was delicious and its ice cream was tasty. Barcelona amazed me with its beautiful buildings and students in the Company of Mary School. I enjoyed eating Taco Bell in another country! From the sweet gelato and amazing sights, I remember and cherish the moments of Italy. I saw the pope in Rome for the second time, which was incredible and an honorable blessing. Many churches were seen and reflected in as well. Assisi was nice because of its churches and the stories of St. Francis. I will never forget this wonderful blessing. Thank you and God Bless.

-David

3/31/19 Departing From Europe and Back to California

Today, we fly back to California from Europe. First, we flew from Italy to Amsterdam, and from Amsterdam, we took a 10 hour flight to LAX. I personally enjoyed both flights a lot since I slept thoroughly through both of them, unlike the first flight going to Europe where everything turned to chaos in the plane when everyone decided to keep changing seats. Honestly, just the feeling of going home after spending two weeks with same people just feels amazing since I get to spend time with my family again.

-Nicholas Lajom

3/30/19 We See Assisi

Today, we left Rome and went to Assisi. This town is way different from Rome, and to me, I personally didn’t really care for it. It was a long bus ride there, and we only stayed there for two hours and we didn’t really do much except for look at churches again and go shopping. That’s basically what was there at Assisi and it was pretty disappointing compared to what I’ve already seen in Rome. Hopefully when I’m older I’ll be able to appreciate Assisi a little bit more of I come back to visit again.

  • Nicholas Lajom

3/29/19 Had’o lot’o Gelato

Today, we got to see more structures of Ancient Rome, but this time, we got to see the historical fountain and the Spanish Steps. These structures were way more crowded then the Coliseum and the other sights I saw yesterday, but in my opinion, they were kind of better to go to since it was free, and located in better locations to eat, shop, etc. My favorite sight was the fountain since it had huge statues that had lots of detail, and the fact that the coins that are thrown in the fountain get donated to the Catholic Church. To top the day off though, Sister Ernestine treated us all to the best gelato place in Rome. That feeling of walking all day and getting some really taste gelato to the end the day is a great feeling of relief, since we went back to the hotel and rested right after. This is what I did in today’s adventure.

3/28/19 Roaming Around Rome

Today’s adventure had to be the best one so far in my opinion. We got to see The Coliseum, the ruins of the Roman Market, lots of religious temples/churches, and the prison where Saint Peter was held captive. My favorite place to see though was the chamber where Saint Peter was held captive because it had many ancient artifacts such as bones of prisoners, bones of animals, and even showed the dent of Saint Peter’s face in the tomb! Today had to be the most interesting so far, because I have never experienced seeing any structures that ancient in my lifetime.

-Nicholas Lajom

Memories to Last a Lifetime

Never in a million years would I have ever thought that i’d be traveling to Europe without my family while I was in high school. I am so grateful to God, generous donors, and my family and friends. It’s hard to believe that this much anticipated trip is really all over, it seems like just yesterday I was selling raffle tickets outside various churches almost every weekend just so I could raise enough funds. Although at the time it seemed like a drag, it was definitely all worth it. My experiences in France, Spain, and Italy will forever stay in my heart. All of the memories i’ve made, the people i’ve met, the places i’ve been to have left such a big imprint on my being.

France was filled with excitement and fulfillment. I already miss all of the sisters there and their hospitality, their kindness, and their devotion to serving God through everything they do. They have taught me so many things, about the rich history Saint Jeanne and her legacy, yes, but also important life lessons that I will forever remember and live out. Walking the streets of Bordeaux was surreal, Saint Jeanne’s spirit was everywhere. Little me who was starting school here in the first grade never would have thought that she would be visiting her foundress’ hometown. Bordeaux is a special place that I will always hold near and dear to my heart.

Spain was an adventure that I definitely will never forget. The beautiful views and culture made it so authentic and loveable. Visiting our sister school in Barcelona was surreal because it was the oldest school visiting the newest school. Although we didn’t all speak the same language, we bonded through playing basketball, volleyball, and music together. The students were so welcoming and I cannot ever forget their energy.

Italy was an absolute dream. I’ve always wanted to travel there and it was more beautiful than I could have ever anticipated. Getting to see the many religious sites and the ruins was breathtaking. There is so much rich history there and I definitely hope to come back someday.

I feel that my relationship with God has been strengthened this whole trip. I found myself in times of deep prayer and reflection, and I only hope that it continues to strengthen even if I am back home. God has spoken to me in different ways, and I am doing my best to live out his word, and to achieve the plans he has for me.

My classmates, who i’ve gotten much closer to during this trip, has made life interesting. Being inseparable for two weeks has made me realize that we are all family, whether we like it or not. We are all brought together by the same means, and I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. From the early mornings to the late nights, we were together and although we were all so drained, we were strengthened by each other and by God. The many laughs we’ve shared, the tears we’ve cried, and the memories we’ve made have been replaying over and over in my mind. The chaperones have all been so patient and kind, even on the days which seemed like would never end, and I cannot express my gratitude enough. They have held us together, supporting us in everything we do, and I don’t know how I could ever repay them. They accept us even in our mistakes and in our faults, much like the parable of the prodical son, which coincidentally was the gospel for our last liturgy of the word together. They have all been a part of my faith journey and continue to leave a mark as long as i’m here. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing individuals who inspire me to grow as a person.

This pilgrimage is an experience that contains memories to last a lifetime. There were memories made, people met, experiences shared, minor mishaps, and I would never trade it for the world. I have grown so much as a person, and a follower of God. Although I miss the different lifestyle, I know not to dwell on the fact that it’s over, but to be thankful that I got to experience what I did. I will miss the early mornings, the late nights and everything in between. From the unknown excitement of not knowing what’s next, the smell of food cooking, the exposure of languages, the overall energy of the city around us, and so much more. This trip is forever going to live in my memories and will never fade because of how much it has enriched my life and my faith. I started off a different person at the beginning, but feel I have turned into a much better person who is more connected to God than ever.

Marianne

Not Another Bus!

A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry many, many passengers. Some buses carry so many passengers that they added another deck on top. These are called a double-decker, just like a double-decker ice cream or hamburger, lol! Apparently, these intolerable vehicles are the best way to get around Europe. Why are they the best way to get around- because things in Europe are built so close together and the streets are so tight that there is no parking available. They are also supposedly faster than trains when it comes to a direct route and they are cheaper than a train or rail system. I guess if I had a drivers license I could understand. But since I don’t, I’ll share my displeasure of them. First of all, we seemed to have spent countless hours on them while in Europe. Sometimes the bus groups were by ourselves and at other times we were packed closely in with complete strangers. I’m not sure I enjoyed the drivers either. Who taught them to use the brakes so violently that I would fall into the person standing next to me? Why would they suddenly decide to drive so quickly with too many corners? Slow down Mr. Driver, I don’t want to die today! Also, the smell of constant cigarette smoke made me want to vomit. Another disturbing factor was how some of the public buses were so unclean. Thank goodness cleanliness was not a problem on the private coach buses. All in all, the bus experience was enlightening and an education in itself. With all my complaints put aside, if it wasn’t for this cheap traveling option we would have never gotten to where we needed to be.

-Anik Scherf 3/29/19

Why Do We Pray?

I’ve always wondered what praying actually is. Is it something that anyone can do, at any age, or at any time? Is there a right way or a wrong way to pray? I’ve never really questioned it before because it is something that our family has always done. During this trip, I saw lots of praying and I think I have finally figured it out. Praying is just a way to talk to God and communicate with him. But in order for Him to communicate back with me, I need to listen to Him just like I would with my parents. It’s not always about asking for things, but about thanking Him for the things that I have been given. I feel Him when someone has been really kind to me or the feeling when I have tried my best at something and have succeeded. When I am upset, He comforts me in prayer. During this trip, I have also seen that God has the ability to heal and that by praying He can help. I can see Him talking to me when I look at nature and see its beauty. Through prayer, I can learn the difference between right and wrong and ask for His forgiveness. Because of His unconditional love, I know that He will take care of me at anytime or at any place I may be in the world. He is always with me- a best friend that lives within me.

Anik Scherf 3/24/19

Home Sweet Home

Well I am finally settled in at home here in Temecula, California. Yes, I did love seeing all the beautiful sites but home is home. Home is where my family is, it’s where my life is, so yes of course I did miss it. I finally got a good nights sleep in my own bed. I slept so good last night. So far jet lag has not really been affecting me, I did start getting tired around 3 but not to the point where I had to sleep. It’s now 7 and i’m pretty tired and think I will go to bed soon. Being away from home so long made me realize how lucky I am to have amazing parents and a great sister. Oh, and of course don’t forget my dogs I probably missed them the most. I have wanted to go to these places for a long time and I am so incredibly great full and thankful to my parents for sending me on this life changing and once in a lifetime opportunity trip. I truly had a great time with all of my friends and got to become more in touch with myself and God.

-Emily

Saint Francis

Saint Francis has always been special in my life. My Omi (grandma) has always had a statue of him for as long as I can remember in a planter in front of her house. He is holding out his hand feeding birds and looks so peaceful. I often find myself looking at him and smiling. Maybe it’s because of his love for animals, like birds. Or maybe it is because he’s surrounded by plants and flowers and looks so content being there. Either way, he’s always been with me.

As I looked around this Italian town of Assisi where he was born, I saw hills and mountains full of greenery and a river down below. The church was very old and simple and had paintings on its upper floor. The streets were narrow, rocky, and winding. The old buildings were beautiful and looked like they were from some sort of Medieval village you would see in a movie. There were lots of pilgrims here, too. I assume they were here to see where St. Francis was born and also buried. It was very pretty here and quieter than the other places we visited. The town people also seemed nicer and sweeter to tourists. I read that St. Francis loved beauty and was a picky eater just like me. His faith was not built immediately by God. It took him lots of years and through prayer he was finally able to feel God’s joy. I like him and now I know why he has always been a part of my life. Like my Omi, he loved everyone regardless of who they were or what they had to offer.

Anik Scherf 3/30/19

3/27/19 What’s Crackin at the Vatican

Today, was another great day to explore Europe! This time though, we got to see Pope Francis speak at St. Peter’s Basilica, and after, we got to take a tour of the Vatican Library. I actually change my mind about Rome looking dirty and old, it actually looks way better during the day with sunny weather. My favorite part of the day is actually when we free time to go roam around by ourselves. My group ate at a really delicious café, and I had the best gelato and pasta so far this trip! I can’t wait for more to come!

-Nicholas Lajom

Miracles of Lourdes

One of the most interesting places that I went to visit was Lourdes. Lourdes is in France and is located in the foothills near the Pyrenees mountains. I have always heard that miracles are performed here and that many people from all over the world go here to visit and ask Mary for something special to happen in their lives. I never exactly knew why it was so miraculous until I spent the day there. The story behind the miracles is that in 1858, a young girl was visited by the Virgin Mary in a cave. As Mary appeared she healed the girl in its nearby waters. It is said to be a true miracle. To this day, millions of people visit this site hoping to be cured by drinking or taking a bath in it. These people, like our group, are also called pilgrims. Each of them in their own way are drawn together by their faith in hope of a miracle cure. I was able to choose whether or not to go into the water. I said yes. I then went into a waiting room where I got undressed and was wrapped in a wet towel. I was then dunked into the water for a blessing. The water was very cold and felt like normal water. As I left, I wondered if I would feel different or more holy. I did not feel different, but maybe this whole experience will make me a holier Catholic. I did ask Mary to deliver a special request from my Omi. I hope it comes true. She is the most devoted Catholic I know and I truly believe she is a saint.

Anik Scherf 3/21/19

An Eventful Return

Walking an average of 8 miles a day, and lugging around a backpack through the streets of Rome, Italy, and France is nothing compared to a 13 and 2-hour flight back to back. The trip home was an amusing one, which for me has to be one of the most memorable moments this whole trip. It all started with a complicated evening the day before. The night before our departure, all the boys had to abandon our 5-star hotel-rooms (of 2-4 guys per room), and shift into a single dorm-like room on the basement level of the hotel. Everyone had to share a bunk bed, and being the last to get in, I ended up getting the top bunk with Robbie on Bottom. However, the frame didn’t seem up to mark to carry a 6’2″ man-child so I switched with Robbie to prevent any “casualties”. We were all inside and settled by 10:15, but we had to be outside and on the bus by 3 in the morning, so sleeping only 4 hours wasn’t too appealing. But it wasn’t even 4 hours, there was a time-change in Europe (where we lost an hour) that threw everyone’s alarm clock off an hour. By the time I woke up, everyone was scrambling around and running outside, when I was out of bed, only 5 out of 14 guys were left in the room. So with a rough night, morning, and skipping breakfast, we were all jolly little campers in the airport waiting for our tickets. When I could finally determine left from right, I noticed that Noah, one of my classmates, was a disoriented and about to fall asleep while standing up. So, being me, I gave him some headphones to share, and we listened to my dad’s hard-rock playlist while waiting in line. It was fun, well it was until I got stopped by security twice and spent 3 Euro on a sip of orange juice. I’m starting to think that Europeans don’t like tourist? Anyhow, we started our departure with a 2 hour flight from Rome to Holand Amsterdam, where apparently more than half of my class always wanted to visit. plenty of us were able to make-up some gift buying we forgot to do in Rome, and some were able to buy flowers. Never thought buying flowers in an airport would be a thing. The second flight from Holand to LAX was over 13 hours long, and everyone was divided up with the crowd to very few of us sat next to another classmate. Luckly, I was able to sit next to a close friend whom I was able to bond with on the way back home, and complete some homework I forgot to do on the trip. But all in all, it was a good-time going home, kinda wish to go to Europe and back just for the flight, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

—Jeremy Minniear

Traveling Home

Yesterday we traveled from Rome, Italy back home to sweet Temecula, California. It was a super long day. Me and my friends didn’t sleep the night before we left because we left the place we were staying at 3 am to get to our 6:30 am flight to Amsterdam in the netherlands. This was also the morning of their time change. We arrived at the airport at around 4:30 am and had to stand in a very very long line to check in our luggage and when we go to check in the luggage we had to wait a long time because there was a luggage backup. After we checked our things in we went to our gate were I slept for a good 45 minutes. The we boarded the jumper plane to Amsterdam for our layover. The layover there was around 3 hours. We ate some food and just chilled. Then we boarded the plane for our 11 hour flight. Being the lucky person I am, I got to sit next to strangers. This was a long long flight and I was anxious to get home. When we finally landed we had to wait in the plane for a while since lots of planes has just landed. We finally got of and has to bus to the airport. When we got inside we had to wait in another long line for passport control, then we could finally get our bags and wait in another line called exit control. Yes exit control. Then I finally got to go see my family! Traveling is not the fun part of actually traveling.

-Emily

Company of Mary

My first real adventure began when we arrived at the convent in Bordeaux where the Company of Mary Sisters lived. This order of Sisters was founded by Jeanne de Lestonnac over 400 years ago. The Order’s mission was to see each person as a unique individual and create an education around them. The convent looked like a stone, older dormatory in a city overcrowded with buildings. When I reached my room, I took a look out my window. I had an amazing view of this enormous city. There were buildings everywhere and all of them were very old. We all had our own rooms. Mine was very simple with a bed, bathroom, a crucifix on the wall, and a small desk. It had wood floor, two windows, and a beam outside of my room that I accidentally ran in to. I think it was placed there to hold up the ceiling.

The Sisters were very sweet and I could feel the sense of community that they shared. They were so inviting and family like. I could tell that their belief and love of God was their greatest strength. It was wonderful to be a small part of St. Jeanne’s dream for just a small moment. I believe that everyone is a little bit more human because of her or her experiences.

-Anik Scherf 3/20/19

Rome ✈️ LA

3.31.19

Today, I woke up at 1:30 am (6:30 pm on 3/30 LA time) so we could catch our flight to Amsterdam at 6:30. After rallying the tired troops, we finally were able to leave at 3, because conveniently there was a time change at 2 am, to hop on our bus for the hour-long drive to the airport. As a whole, our group was moving extremely sluggishly, because after all we only got three hours of sleep and were not excited to leave our new little paradise one bit, but we did eventually make it through the baggage check, and then through security. Our first flight was short and sweet, from Rome, Italy to Amsterdam, the Netherlands in around two and a half hours. Originally, I was going to stay awake and read my Independent Reading book and write a blog, but instead, as soon as I sat down, in between Makayla and Mr. K, I passed out. I didn’t even realize we had taken off until after we landed in Amsterdam! Once we disembarked, we had to wait a few hours before our second and final flight of the day, Amsterdam to LAX. This flight, which I am currently on, is much longer, ten and a half hours to be exact! But our flight line, KLM, is a tenfold better compared to the airlines that we flew on our way to Europe. Anyways, I am going to catch a few hours of sleep, but will hopefully wake up to the sweet American air and indulge myself in a mouth-watering In-N-Out burger! I can’t wait.

Emotions of Leaving Home

There are so many different emotions going on in my mind right now. I have literally counted the days until this new adventure would begin for me. I have researched and looked up so many pictures of the places we would be going and staying at. My first emotion was one of excitement. I was able to ride to the airport with two special people, Regina and Robbie. I then began to feel a little panicked. We were accidentally dropped at the wrong terminal. There was no one around that we recognized. Once we figured it out, we were able to walk to right one. On our walk to the correct terminal, we finally saw a familiar face. It was David and he was driving by laughing. I could only imagine what he was thinking. I’m guessing it was because we looked like lost and confused tourists with way too much luggage. We needed that laugh at that moment from him. I instantly felt relieved because I knew we were not going to be alone on this journey. This was going to be the first of many laughs.

As we were eagerly awaiting our flight, the time seemed to drag on forever. This made me totally stressed. By the time we actually got onto the plane, I realized there was no turning back and began focusing on the all of the things that we had in store for us. I told myself that I had to leave my worries behind, but this did not help me as far as sleeping was concerned. I did not sleep a wink. This journey was chosen for a reason and I’m hoping it will bring me happiness!

-Anik Scherf 3/19/19

Feelings of Flying Home

It’s the end of our trip and I’m not quite sure how I am feeling getting on the plane ride home. I have seemed to miss everything on this trip- the cuddling with my dog, the smell of my dad cooking dinner, the nightly hugs from my mom, and most of all the comfort of just being home. But I am also going to miss so many things from my travels- the happiness on Sister Ernastine’s face when she was reunited with her Sisters, the beautiful sights and sculptures, the unknown of where we were going next, the smells of croissants being made, and the feeling of being so close to God. I’m a little sad with how fast the trip flew by. I also think I’m feeling exhausted from our late night returns and early wake-ups.

Another reason, is that I seem somehow more grown-up and more independent from when I left. I was able to explore the world and somehow feel as though I am a different person because of it. I wonder if it is going to be strange returning to my old life where nothing has changed? I have so many stories to tell and so many incredible memories to share. My mind is still unsure of how I feel, however, it is not stopping me from wondering where I might travel to next!

-Anik Scherf

2019 pilgrimage reflection

This trip was truly an amazing experience for me personally. I have grown closer to God and and made so many memories that will last a lifetime. I am so appreciative that I got this experience and that I got to learn the history of all the places we went to. It was a very exhausting experience and although we came back to our rooms dead tired most nights I would do it all again for the strength in God that I found. The memories that I made with people always made the days worth it no matter how tired I was, there were so many times that I laughed so hard my stomach hurt and also times that I felt so close to God. I will never forget the bus rides, the 11 hour flights, and riding on the pubic buses. It means so much to me that I spent this amazing experience with people who are like family to me because they made me feel safe even though I was away from my family. I am thankful for the chaperones who dealt with me for the two weeks. Thank you so much to everyone who made this trip possible, I will never forget what I have learned and experienced on this trip.

Never forget- Makena

I truly hasn’t sunk in that I’m flying home from the trip I’ve been awaiting since the beginning of the year. It felt like a lifetime waiting for this trip, and now it is slowly but surely coming to an end. However, I have learned that it’s better to dwell on the positives of a moment rather than awaiting the finish line. There have been so many positive and negative memories I have made on this trip, each of which have taught me an important life lesson. Meeting all of the sisters has empowered me so uniquely, in a sense that I have never seen individuals so passionate about their job and their faith. The Sisters of the Company of Mary are wonderful people and I’m so glad to have had the experience to meet more of the individuals that provide this education for me. Being able to live on my own and manage my own finances has been a very different experience and I have learned a lot about being an independent woman, and that it’s not as scary to be alone as it seems. However, I wasn’t always alone. I had my friends, my family, to help me through this experience. Through late nights, homework, bus rides, early mornings, different foods, souvenirs, and monuments galore, my fellow classmates were always been there for me. Each and every one of my classmates makes the day worth living, whether I’m in Europe or just at school. I’m so glad God has put me together with these remarkable individuals, because they genuinely teach me something new everyday, about not only myself but about life in general. None of this would be possible without my administrators, my mentors. They have given me the opportunity to tell my own story and to manage myself, while also keeping me on track and forgiving my mistakes. Their support and constant cheering in the stands of my life have changed me to be a better disciple of god. Of course there are moments where I was frustrated, where if I heard another one of my classmates voices for the hundredth time I might go crazy. There were moments where I cried and I laughed and where I deeply missed my family back home. What is life without these challenges though? This trip to Europe has taught me that I am allowed to fail, and that it is not the end of the world. This casual and temporary negativity I have faced has made me stronger in the knowledge of myself and in the way I am living. There is always room for improvement. Journeying to Europe to follow the footsteps of St. Jeanne, an empowering female educator I have spent almost my whole life dedicated to, and learning about my Catholic faith has made me that much closer to God and this improvement I have been longing for. This adventure of a lifetime has reached its stopping point, but the memories and life lessons made out of it will live in my heart forever. 

Pilgrimage 2019- Homecoming

I have finally returned home from my study trip in Europe along with my classmates. I don’t miss it as much as I thought I was, mostly because of the fact that I’m so excited to share my experience with my family and friends.

This study trip had definitely brought me closer to God in a very personal manner, as well as closer to my classmates. All the churches that we traveled to gave me time to pray for my needs to the Lord and they put me in a meditating state of mind.

I’ve gotten closer to my classmates as well. The suffering we went through together made us feel united as a community that understood each other’s pains. We would constantly motivate each other to ignore the pains in our bodies and to focus only on our goal at the time.

God told me this pilgrimage to first focus on myself before telling my other classmates what they should and shouldn’t do. This will make me a sign for them and to many more for years to come.

-Vinny

Reagan’s Blog

Today, it would be our last day because we would be traveling all the way back to California. We all packed the night before really late, but we would need to wake up really early. Italy was also going through a time change, so sadly, we would lose an hour of sleep. We woke up at 3, and we were on our way to a long flight. We left the hotel at around 3:30, and the drive to the airport took one hour and our flight would leave at 6:30 to Amsterdam. The flight went by fast. Once we landed, it was around 10:00. Our next flight would take place at around 12:30. After waiting, we boarding the plane that would take around 12 hours to the United States. For some reason, most of our seats were spread apart in the plane. I didnt sit next to any classmates, but the one nearest to me was 5 seats to my right. Stranded, I spent most of my time sleeping and watching movies. We finally landed and I am very relieved about being home. I will miss europe but i think ill come back again. This concludes Reagan’s Blog Series

Overview-Colin

This pilgrimage was one of the best experiences of my life. Everything about the trip was amazing, all the people, all the places. I miss Europe already. There were so many beautiful places to go to like churches, historical monuments, all sorts of amazing things. As I am no longer in Europe I think over all of the amazing places and things that we did on this 2 week long trip. It does not even feel like it was 2 weeks worth, we did so many things and there were so many more to do. I miss Europe already and I want to go back and see the places that I could not. If you are able to get to go on a trip like this you can absolutely not turn this experience down. It was to amazing to let down. If you ever go to Rome or anywhere in Italy you must get gelato, pizza, and pasta it is some of the best food you will ever taste. I wish that I could go back to Europe and have different experiences that are similiar to the ones that we had.

-Colin Stokes

Back Home

March 31

Currently it’s 12:43p.m and I’m on the plane heading out from Netherlands. It’s going to be I think about a 11hr flight back to LAX and I’m so tired. I have been up since 2a.m. Everyone is so tired right now. We got to the first airport at about 3a.m and checked in, went through security ect. We approached our gate and Mrs. Zaleski and Mr. Nguyen gave us instructions to walk around to get some food, drinks or last minute little things. The airport had stores and little cafes so I walked around with a group of my friends to find some snacks and to burn time before it was time to board. Honestly I was happy to go home and see my  family and friends but I did not feel home sick or anything overall felt really comfortable in Europe. Experiencing different cultures and meetings new sisters and students all around Europe was really nice. Everyone was so hospitable and generous. The food was so delicious and having gelato almost everyday was even more amazing. I personally think the overall trip was a great experience and I’m very great full. Going to an Italian mass and getting to be yet so close to the Pope was a dream come true, getting closer to God and connecting with other people that I don’t usually talk to was great. Europe has been an opportunity that has turned into a blessing that I was one of a few to experience what we experienced in 2 weeks.

Natalia Negrete

The Journey Home

Our journey back to LAX was one filled with immense fatigue and exhaustion. After arriving back at the hotel from our final adventure in Assisi, everyone was exhausted. Nevertheless, we had to leave for the Airport at 3 am, thus, we only were allowed a few hours of sleep before departing. After his inadequate amount of sleep, we drearily boarded a bus that that transported us to the airport. We waited in line to check our bags for what seemed like eternity, but passed through security without any problems. I was able to catch a small portion of sleep while waiting at the gate before I boarded the plane to Amsterdam with my fellow tired pilgrims. The moment I sat down in my seat in the plane I immediately fell fast asleep and did not awake until we had arrived in Amsterdam. Upon arriving we walked across the airport to our gate and waited for boarding to start. After several hours of recuperation, we pilgrims departed for Los Angeles International Airport. The flight was quite uneventful. I used it to rest and sleep. Despite the 10 hours it took to arrive in Los Angeles, the flight seemed to pass by considerably faster then the flight to Paris. After arriving and passing though customs, I was overcome by exhaustion. Overall the pilgrimage has helped me grow in knowledge of my Catholic Heritage. This knowledge has helped me understand the rich legacy the Catholic Church contains through physical architecture.

Noah

Italy 2019

March 30

It’s our last day in Europe and I can’t imagine leaving. This whole trip has been an amazing experience. Although it was way more different than I expected it to be, currently on our way to Assisi, Italy so see some churches and walk around the town. It was about a total of two-hours. I sat by myself so I can get some sleep because I was so tired from the previous day, when we started driving the scenery was so beautiful. All the green hills and blue sky was so perfect as we drove by. Watching all the cars and trees pass by I slowly fell asleep to my playlist I was listening to as well and woke up to Sister Saying over the microphone we will be there in five minutes. As we approach the parking lot I prepare my stuff to get ready we eventually walk around and see some churches and stop to browse around some stores and eat some gelato. When it hits 4:30 p.m we go back to the bus and head back to wear we are staying to make our reservation for dinner at 7:30 p.m and have our prayer reflection in the chapel after dinner where we were staying. Mr. Nguyen told the gospel since we didn’t have time to go to church and after that we reflected the meaning behind it and the overall pilgrimage experience. As we said our goodbyes to the sisters we walked out of the chapel and prepared our luggage to head to the airport in the morning.

Natalia Negrete

Ancient Rome

After visiting Saint Peters we got to visit Ancient Rome. It was one of our easy days according to sister and to be honest it really was. We were allowed to sleep in and get some homework done and eat breakfast in the pace that we wanted to. After getting ready we headed to the bus which would take us to a piazza called piazza de Venezia. In the piazza there was an enormous monument that was made as a symbol that Italy had officially become a united country after being separate regions. After walking and taking pictures we went walking by a lot that was filled with ruins. Kaitlyn actually said the creed in front of the ruins while wearing her FFA shirt. After seeing the ruins we went by the Roman Forum where Saint Peter was held a prisoner in his time. To be able to see where Saint Peter was held was soemthing very special to witness. While inside the prison we also got to see where the guards slammed Peter so hard against the wall that you can see his face imprinted on the wall. When we finished touring the prison we walked to the Colosseum which wasn’t very far. Although I’ve been to Rome before and have seen the Colosseum, the structure still amazes me. We got to take some pictures and then we went to a church that was nearby. We were given about an hour and a half to get lunch and shop; in that time I had some pasta and of course some gelato. I bought some sovenirs and then met up with the rest of the group. After lunch we headed back to the Villa where we were staying at and did some more homework until around 6:30pm which is when we later went to go eat some dinner.

Alexia Gonzales

Saying Goodbye- Colin Stokes

As we are ending our days in Europe we say goodbye to the extremely hospitable sisters that graciously gave us a place to stay in in Rome. I am grateful for all of the sisters that we met along our journey in Europe for their hospitality and selflessness. In the morning we have to wake up at 2 in the morning and we start to head our way to the airport to start heading home. After a while we finally arrive at our first airport of the day. We wait patiently until we load into the plane and take off. As we take off we say our final goodbyes to Rome and start heading our way to the next airport located in Amsterdam. After the two hour flight we arrive at Amsterdam and start waiting for the plane to be ready to board. As we are waiting I think of three things that I want to happens. One I want to not have to go on this dreadful 12 hour flight. Two I want to be able to stay and take in more of the amazingly beautiful views located in Europe. And last but certainly not least I just want to get home and take the longest power nap of the century.

-Colin Stokes

Assisi ~ Tommy

3.30.19
Today, our pilgrimage took us to the far reaches of the Italian countryside, Assisi. We started with a great breakfast provided by the Sisters of the Company of Mary, and then headed out to Assisi! But we didn’t make a straight shot there, we made some small stops along the way too! For instance, the first stop we made was Orvieto. A small medieval town on the way to Assisi that was a big Christian waypoint. A large attraction in Orvieto is the Duomo, a magnificent masterpiece of Christian architecture. Although we didn’t get much time to explore, this is yet another city that is added to my bucket list. After another short bus ride, we made it to the little village outside of Assisi. We broke for lunch here while we were soaking up the beautiful sun. Finally, after hours and hours of anticipation we finally made it to Assisi, which is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. The city itself is a modern medieval gem, but the best part is the rolling hills that coat the surrounding valleys with their beauty. Between several churches, and several gelatos, Assisi is yet another city to be added to my bucket list of ripe towns to revisit on my next trip!

Italia

My overall experience of Italy was amazing. I visited a lot of places, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, filled with its beautiful architecture. I circled around the basilica five times, looking at its design and faith. There were many souvenir shops and places to pray. As I walked through the streets of Rome, I saw many sights that caught my eye. There were streets that were narrow, and the buildings were full of history. Many gelato (ice cream) shops were on every block. I tried delicious flavors and ate a lot of the sweetness every day. Visiting the city for the second time gave me a blessing to experience everything again with a new environment. My classmates and I visited a lot of churches and glanced at its faithfulness in their walls. The sisters were very kind in welcoming us into our hotel. They provided us with delicious breakfast every day, and they prayed with us with faith and unity, even though I could not speak the same language as them. Assisi was full of awe-inspired places of St. Francis. My classmates and I prayed and reflected on the trip and its moments. Italy fulfilled my trip with excitement and reflection.

St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy

-David

A City of Wonder

The city of Roma (Rome) is a city of unbelievable beauty, architecture, art, and people. With the Vatican church at its center, Rome is an ancient city surrounded my modern society. Every street corner has some resemblance or sign of the city than fell long ago, making the journey that much more exciting. The ancient Romans society had an unalienable amount of pacience with their sculpture work, art, and architecture. The detail in the sculptrures of the Holy Mary, Saint Francis, and all the major well known saints including Saint Peter, are seen around every street corner and surrounded the walls of every small church or chapel. However, though the artwork which engulfs the city is unbelievable and eye catching to any tourist catching a glimps, my favorite part of Rome has to be the system and people of the magnificent city. There are fountains randomly placed around the street corner, and the cars are smaller to fit the slim streets. I think my favorite part of Rome is how their is a Vatican City self sufficient and desperate of Rome, governed by the Pope. Things I can see in Rome are unbelievable when compared to any city back at home, making me want to stay. There was even a hotel called the “CIA”.The scariest part of Rome is the amount of motorcycles and cars, but how I’ve only seen one gas station in the city. I love Rome and never want to leave, this pilgrimage was worth the while, and I can’t wait to give my family the gifts and share the experiences I’ve gained, but regret only buying two things for myself. If I ever come back, I’ll actually buy a shirt that says Rome, but that’s a worry for the next day. Can’t wait to get home.

Assisi and the Italian Countryside

Green hills rolling over purple mountains, with trees creating a barrier around property. Grape vines run through small and large vineyards, old and new buildings surrounding, all overlooking their agricultural business. The jungle of trees bow down to the mountains, as they bow down to the sun. The sunlight finds its way, seeping through the cracks of each and every branch. The bodies of water sparkle in the sunlight, as the reflection of trees are seen on the edges of the rivers. This is what I was lucky enough to get to see while driving to Assisi. Spotting the walled city from far away is amazing, but once you see it up close, you really feel like you were living during the time of St. Francis of Assisi. The tiny, steep, up and down hill streets are packed with shops, and greenery and plants are everywhere. The church was absolutely beautiful; I thought it was the coolest thing how there were three levels of the church, or three churches put into one. The underground layer was a crypt of St. Francis. The second, or ground level, was the church part of where mass would be held, with paintings depicting the life of St. Francis throughout his life on the walls. The top level was another small chapel, which also lead outside. When you leave the ground level on the opposite side of the entrance, you walk out to a big open field of grass, with a statue of a wounded St. Francis riding his horse back from battle. In the middle of the grass there are plants spelling out the letters F, A, X. We walked to the other side of Assisi to visit the church of St. Claire, which was incredible and surreal. We also got the opportunity to see her body intact. Driving home through the countryside one last time made me realize we really were leaving our pilgrimage study trip, but I am so glad I came. I have learned so much more about the person who I am and the people around me, as well as my relationship with God as of now, and I know what I still need to do and how I can do it.

Regina

Exploring Italy(part 2)

Today in Italy, we traveled to Assisi. We got on a private bus which was a nice change from public transit. We traveled out of the city and took the senic route. For most of the ride most of us took naps and listened to music. We then stopped at Orvieto to see the sights and to enjoy the beautiful view. As we walked through Orvieto walked on the side of the skinny road as drivers sped bye in there small cars. After leaving Orvieto we got back on the bus and slept some more along to some chill music. As we arrived at Assisi, we stopped down the hill to eat. Me and Mare decided to eat together as non-meat eaters. A problem occurred when we found out almost no restraunts took card. We finally found a pizza place at the end of the block that took card, and ended up eating while walking. We finally arrived at Assisi and walked through the town enjoying the history of the city. After that we got our final shopping time and then went back to the hospitality center.

Caleb

Colin in Rome-The Pope

Coming to Rome we have been able to experience so many different things although there are so many more things to do that we can’t for restrictions on time. One of the best experiences I have had in Rome is being able to see the Pope. We visited the Vatican where the Pope and other Priests were preaching scripture. After about an hour of this the Pope started talking and gave a papal blessing to all of the thousands of people that were present at the meeting. This was truly a great experience and although we couldn’t really understand the people that were talking because it was in different languages it was still a special and great experience for not all people are able to do things like seeing the pope. I felt as though this was a great experience and I am extremely grateful for being able to attend such an event. It is a very special experience and if you every get the chance you should try to attend one of these events for it was very inspirational towards me.

-Colin Stokes

Assisi

Today was our last day on our amazing and faithful pilgrimage. We ended this trip by going to Assisi the place where St. Francis heard the voice of God telling him to rebuild the church and where he founded the Fransicans. This was one of the most beautiful and serene places we have visited on this trip. When we walked down to get to the old church where God spoke to Saint Francis I felt so peaceful and relaxed. I also loved the historical parts. Before coming to Assisi I thought that it was old but I never realized how old and historic this place was. I was informed on our walk through the city that many of the buildings were never restored. This amazed me! During our walk I also learned that things may not always go your way, for example, I tried to do a little bit of shopping and I was suprised when my card did not work, I was so sad because I really liked the stuff I found but, this experience taught me that I don’t need material things because shortly after this experience I was greeted by all my friends (not to mention I realized that I was in the place and I don’t need material things to remember the best moments) who made me feel much better. Assisi was truly one of the most amazing and serene places we have ventured to on this pilgrimage.

-Kaitlyn

Living in the moment – Makena

I think there is something so sentimental about living in a moment. Throughout this trip I’ve been trying hard to stay away from my phone, and sometimes I forget to take pictures. That can be helpful when trying to disconnect, but it comes at a disadvantage in the future when trying to remember what happened on such an impactful trip. I much more enjoy taking Polaroid pictures so I made sure to save all of my Polaroid film for Rome, my favorite place ever, so that I’ll remember that memory every time I glance at my photo wall. However, even though these pictures and these memories on paper and digitally will be around for as long as I want them to, nothing can replace the beauty of absorbing a city or a monument when it’s right in front of me. It almost seems incredulous looking at a piece of art through the lenses of a camera, rather than putting it down and seeing it right in front of me. This trip has taught me a lot about living in the moment. I have told myself to put my phone down many times, not only to learn to be independent, but to fully understand that this may be the one and only chance I have. I think I can connect this to a bigger as well. This trip has taught me how to be present in life and in the moment, rather than dwelling on the future for too long. I struggle with this because I’m always reaching for new goals or stressing about the ones I’m aiming to accomplish. “Let go, let God” is a phrase my religion teacher tells me constantly when I ask for guidance, and sometimes I accidentally brush it off knowing I have more in my life to deal with. Even though life may seem like its ending in a moment and that I’ll never make it back up to the surface, God will always be there for me. By journeying on this trip I have understood that I need to learn how to fully trust God to become the person he wants me to be. I can inspire others to do the same with a stronger foundation, and this is my ultimate goal.

Pilgrimage 2019- The Last Day

Today marked our very last day of our 2019 Pilgrimage. It brings both sadness and joy to my conscience; sadness because it is an end to a milestone in my faith journey and joy because I get to share my moving experiences to my loved ones back in California.

We started off the day early in the morning in order to get as much as we could done. Our first destination was Oviento: a small village with a beautiful cathedral called the Duomo in its heart. We spent about an hour-and-a-half here until we left for the last and final destination in our study trip: Assisi.

Once we finally reached Assisi, our group wasted no time and we immediately began our ascension up toward the city. The first and most important cite we visited was Saint Francis’s tomb. We viewed the simplicity of the tomb, which was very significant for me because it taught me true humility in my life. It inspired me to have a humble death like him so that my eternal life could be more extravagant than anything on this Earth. After viewing this tomb, our group went upstairs to the basilica on top of the original church. This basilica depicted more of Saint Francis’s modesty through its fiascos throughout its walls. The last cite was The tomb of Saint Clara in her own basilica. This cite greatly affected me because her body is completely uncorrupted to this day, which is a sign of her holiness. She inspires me to try as hard as I can to follow in her footsteps to perhaps reach that same fate. We ended the night with a liturgy of this sunday’s readings and by reflecting over everything that was done during our pilgrimage.

-Vinny

Colins 2nd day in spain

On March 25th we went back to La Sagrada Familia and instead of attending mass we actually took a tour of the enourmous church and we were able to truly take in the actual beauty of the church and what the different artwork and sculptures that are located on, in, and around the building actually mean or represent. Going through this tour I was able to truly grasp the size and beauty that this structure truly contained within itself. La Sagrada Familia is a very great church and if you are in Barcelona I one hundred percent recommend it as a place that you need to go to. You will be very surprised by how big it is and the amount of beauty that the church holds. I am truly grateful to have been able to tour this church and I would go again to see it if I ever go to Barcelona again.

-Colin Stokes

Colins first day in Spain

On March 24th we had our first day in Spain where we got to attend mass in the church titled la Sagrada Familia, which is a lovely Church that is very grand and ornate. With extremely luck we were able to be in the front row seats of the mass that had a little over a thousand people in atendance. We were very lucky to be able to have this oppurtunity to attend this mass and especially the fact that we were able to get in early and get into the best seats available. Even better the deacon was actually the person celebrating the mass which made it an even better and more special of an experience for us to have. It is a very beautiful church that is dedicated to the holy family. I am very grateful to have had the oppurtunity to attend mass in this specific church.

-Colin Stokes

Day in Assisi

Today started pretty early at 6:30 am for breakfast. Today was the day we made the three hour travel to Assisi, Italy. We did stop in a small medieval village called Orvieto, this little city was gorgeous. Orvieto sits high up on a mountain top. City’s were built like that to make sure they can see the enemy coming. We stoped here so that sister could visit with some other sisters and so that we had another place to see. We didn’t stay here very long because we did have to get to Assisi. In Orvieto we also had some time to walk around to the little shops, which majority of them were ceramic shops since that is what Orvieto is famous for, I did buy a little ceramic thing for my dad, nothing too big that I couldn’t travel across the world with. I would say we stayed in this town for a hour and a half not long. As we continued our bus ride we got to see the italian countryside which is the most amazing and beautiful thing in the entire world. It’s vibrant greens and purples and the darkness of the tree trunks that make the italian countryside absolutely gorgeous. When we arrived in Assisi we had to walk and walk and walk until we finally reached the church that had Saint Francis’s tomb. The church where he lies has 3 churches to it. The bottom one has the body of Saint Francis, the middle one and the top one have fabulous artwork. After this church we went on walking and stopped for some gelato (side note I have had way to much gelato in Italy) and a souvenir break. I got lots of things in Assisi for my family and I hope they like them. After that we went to the church where the body of Saint Clare, and original follower of Francis, still remains intact and has yet to decay. Seeing Saint Clare’s body to me is proof, proof that God is real. This was eye opening. I thought to myself God wanted us to see her, she lived a life filled with holy spirit and her body did not decay. If this isn’t proof what is? Overall this day was hard and long but meaningful and I will cherish it for as long as I shall live.

-Emily

Reagan’s Blog

Today, we were woken up to such a delightful breakfast as always. I had to make sure i ate enough for the whole trip because we would be traveling to Así Así, which was 3 hours away from where we’re staying. Because of confusing for how long we are staying, we had to move downstairs to and we would be sleeping fhere for one last. We wouldn not get the much sleep anyways due to flying at 6:30 to Amsterdam, but that was okay. Through bus, we traveled 2 hours to Orvieto. Oriveto was a small village that had great food as well as a Cathedral that was famous for its dome. However, we couldn’t enter because it was closed. Once we got our food, we were headed off to Así Así. Once we arrived, we toured backwards of St. Francis’ life. We started off when he died, then when he was called to serve God, and then the place where he grew up. We couldn’t travel the whole thing because we wouldn’t make it back on time for the bus. Once we finished, we went back home, went to church to celebrate mass, and finally, had a delicious dinner. This concludes day 13.

Orvieto and Assisi

Today, we ventured out in Orvieto and Assisi. Orvieto was a small little Pinocchio town which had many ceramics. We visited some sisters there for a little while, and I wish we could’ve stayed longer. We saw a gorgeous church that on the outside, had the full story of Jesus. Sister Ernestine said that because of its position in the west, the best time of day to see it was during the sunset. We came during the morning so I was a little bit sad that I didn’t see it in it’s full beauty, but regardless, it was still pretty. It took quite a while to find a gelato place, but in the end we found one and it was delicious. We then made our way to Assisi which was a one and a half hour bus drive from Orvieto. I slept the whole way but I did catch some glimpses of the beautiful Italian countryside. We were supposed to visit the church where Saint Francis would go to pray, but because it was lunchtime, it was closed. We stopped to get some lunch, and it was quite an experience. We only had a certain amount of time so it was quite frantic. We passed by many lunch places that either didn’t allow takeout, or that only accepted Euros, so we ran back and forth across the town trying to look for food. My friends and I shared a margherita pizza, and it was different from the ones i’ve had. I’m just happy we came across that restaurant for food. We visited Saint Francis’ tomb, the cross that spoke to him, Saint Claire’s tomb, and many churches. Seeing Saint Claire’s tomb was surreal to me because her body was still in tact. I have never seen anything like it and it will be something I remember for the rest of my life. While I was looking at the cross that spoke to Saint Francis, I prayed to God that he might speak to me someday too. We made our way to San Damiano, the church where the cross spoke to Saint Francis, but Sister Ernestine decided that we wouldn’t make it in time for mass back in Rome. Saint Francis is one of the Saints that I admire the most. His love for God and for the nature around him is astounding. My mom’s favorite prayer was his song, “Make me a Channel of Your Peace” so I grew up having a great love for everything he stood for. Walking in his footsteps was something that I never thought that i’d be able to experience, but I am so grateful that I did. Now we are on the road back to Rome to go to church and eat dinner. After, we will be packing and resting for an early flight back home.

Marianne

Our Last Day in Italy

Today is the final day of our pilgrimage. We began the day with a trip to Orvieto, a small medieval village located in the scenic wine country of Italy. Upon arriving, we surveyed the beautiful cobblestone city and admired the intricate architecture of the ancient cathedral located in the center of the town. After seeing this amazing ancient town, we continued our journey until we arrived at the hometown city of St. Francis, Assisi.  When we arrived in the beautiful town of Assisi located on the top of a scenic Italian hill, we toured the amazing Basílica that crowns the town. The Basilica is quite simply designed with frescos representing Saint Francis throughout his life. The simplicity of this church’s design in comparison to many of the ancient churches of Rome reflects the simple lifestyle that the Franciscans stand for. The tomb of Saint Francis is located below the Basílica in a small underground chapel decorated with intricate wooden designs. After touring the Basílica, we journeyed through the little city of Assisi. Similar to Orvieto, Assisi is covered in ancient cobblestone and architecture. After studying this ancient city in order to better understand the life of St. Francis of Assisi, we departed back to the hotel. Over the course of experiencing the architecture and layout of several of the small medieval towns that can be found all over Italy, I was amazed by how long these towns have stayed untouched by the ever changing outside world. 

Noah

The view from the beautiful Cathedral of Assisi

The Pope

It is our second day in Rome and we had the privilege of being in the Papal audience. We had to wake up around 6:45 because we had to go on the bus around 7:30 am. The bus ride to Saint Peters Basilica took about an hour since we had to make many stops since we were riding on the bus. Once we arrived at the basilica we had to go through security to get inside. After everyone got through security we found seats and sat down to listen to the Pope. The Pope gave a nice homily about forgiveness and we got to pray the Our Father with everyone who was in the basilica. After the audience we got to go inside the basilica to look at statues and paintings and even go down to where the catacombs where to see where Saint Peter is buried. After the audience we had the chance to go visit the archives which has never had a tour group since it has tight rules about only letting in scholars and not tourists. Although we couldn’t take pictures the frescos on the walls were stunning, they were so detailed it was really beautiful. Our tour guide was actually a Francesican sister who is from Assisi. It was a great experience and being the only tour group makes it even better. After touring we went to a church where we met up with Mr. Crisells son who is currently there studying. We also met up with people who are from an organization who helps the poor and we got the chance to talk with them. After spending some time talking they led us to a very good restaurant as a way to end the great day.

Alexia Gonzales

Pilgrimage 2019- Eternal City

Coming here to Rome, I expected my experience to be very similar to my last visit here. My family and I were very rushed trying see every site we possibly could; however, we were only able to see a limited amount. That’s why I was so excited once I found out one of our destinations was Rome; so that perhaps I would be able to view more cites that I missed.

When we first arrived at the Eternal City, I felt right at home. All the sisters here welcomed us as if they’d known us their whole lives. The first night, we took a tour around their museum that captivates Saint Jeanne’s impact on Italy and Europe as a whole. The next day, we dressed in our formal uniforms and went to the mass that Pope Francis celebrated. We were fortunate enough to get his blessing on us and on all our objects that we brought to be blessed by him as well. After the mass, we went inside Saint Peter’s Basilica and enjoyed its great detail, beauty, and presence of God. Following the basilica was our tour of the Vatican’s beautiful private library, which is hardly ever seen by anyone. The fact that the officials accepted us into the library shows me that God is truly present in making this pilgrimage the best possible experience for my classmates and myself.

-Vinny

Memories to Last a Lifetime

It’s sad to think that my Pligrimage is slowly but surely coming to an end. Well you know what they say, all good things must come to an end. Do I miss the people I left behind that love me back in California, yes I do. Do I want to continue to travel, continue to learn and discover new things, yes, I do. More importantly, do I want to continue traveling to different and new countries with my classmates, without a doubt. Thirteen days ago me and my classmates boarded a plane and flew across the world to connect and deepen our faith with God halfway across the world. Now I am yearning to travel even farther with them. Even though thirteen days may seem little, through these thirteen days I have mended friendships, strengthened friendships, made new friends, and enjoyed time touring Europe with some of the people that I love. I have created many new memories with my classmates here in Europe. It’s sad to think that I only have two or three more years with these people that I have gotten so close to, and oh boy, does time go by fast. If I could take this trip again, I would, I don’t regret a single moment. I want to remember this opportunity forever, and I’m afraid the older I will get the more I will forget. I’m afraid one day I will wake up and only catch a glimpse of what happened during my pilgrimage to Europe. Each night before I pray to God and fall asleep, I replay the day over in my head and thank God for blessing me with such a beautiful experience. I don’t want to forget this experience, and I’m sure that my classmates have helped make this pilgrimage a trip to remember. A trip to remember with memories to last a lifetime. – Makayla Hernandez

Carcassone Colin Stokes

On March 23rd we started to make our journey from the wonderful,inspirational, and beautiful city of Lourdes. We start to make our long 8 hour journey all the way to Barcelona. Luckily we were able to make a stop at the majestic walled city of Carcassone. At Carcassonne we learned a ton about different architecture techniques such as Roman and medieval styles. The walls and the city of Carcassonne mixed both of those techniques together to create one beautiful city. There were many techniques that they used in order to defend the city and the castle. There we learned about all of these different defense methods such as archer slits in the wall, moats, and draw bridges. To todays standard this city would be very small but it still it is quite a sight to see. I am very grateful to be able to take this pit stop on our long 8 hour bus ride. It was a very refreshing and educational experience for us to have and I am very thankful to be givin the opportunitie to do so.

-Colin Stokes

Good morning Rome (3/29)

I woke up to go to church with everyone including the Sisters that live here in Italy it now has been my third mass here in Rome as well as our last day of the city. We are going to a different part of Italy tomorrow morning called Assisi. When mass ended we presented gifts to the Sisters for there hospitality caring heart during that same time we presented a check that was a total amount of 2,000 dollars raised from the goat and cheese fundraiser the FFA chapter did. Sisters were extremely grateful for their gifts which we got them a nun run water bottle we have been passing them all around Europe to most of the Sisters who have been very hospitable toward us. After the gifts we’re passed out it was time to eat breakfast the food was delicious with all breads and juices. We later had a few hours to do homework before we got to see the Spanish Steps, Pigna, Trevi Fountain and some of the churches. Today was like yesterday an easy simple day walking around Rome and visiting and eating at new places.

Natalia Negrete

Exploring Rome(Part 1)

For the past couple days, our group has graciously received the opportunity to explore the city of Rome, Italy. When we arrived here, we were immediately warned about pickpocketing. We were told that people called gypsies had a reputation of robbing and stealing from tourists. Most of us decided to wear our backpacks in front of us, and felt just a little bit safer. As we started to tour and walk around the city, it became easier to tell which people were acting sketchy around us, and to avoid them. As far as I know, none of us have been pick pocketed yet. Being in a big group with lots of wandering eyes does help to discourage thief’s attempts at robbery. Street vendors were a different problem. If you even looked at what they were selling, they would be all over you. The most successful street vendors, were the ones who didn’t try to smother you with merchandise. If buyers have time to decide, they are more likely to buy. Overall it was always safer to buy from an actual store. Because with street vendors, there was always a chance of them trying to scam or pickpocket you. But the overall vibes of the city were friendly.

Caleb

A new perspective- Makena

As I was looking for ideas to describe my trip for my blog, I came upon a topic that was very interesting to me. The subject was to explain what I’ve learned about the chaperones guiding me through this trip, and how my perspectives have changed as I journeyed through Europe with them. This warmed my heart, because I truly have developed a love and care for my teachers and administrators. They feel like family. From this trip, I have learned so much more about each and every one of these individuals and I felt closer to them as the days continued. I have learned that Mr Nguyen, our religion teacher and campus minister, is still a child at heart. Mr. Nguyen has guided me through a lot of my struggles being a student. He has taught me so many important life lessons that inspire me to pass down his message, and more importantly the message of God, to all of my classmates and loved ones. However, at the same time, he can be so full of energy and relate to the students as if he was a teenager again, and I’ve never seen this before. It’s extremely funny actually, I tease him quite often about it. I have learned that Mrs. Zaleski, our school principal, is a fun and loving mama bear who really loves to support and guide in any way possible. I feel like I’ve always known Mrs. Zaleski in that way, but as she guided me through the streets of Bordeaux or even when I was taking an Advil on the nights where headaches are more prominent, she has become a mother figure to me. Mrs. Zaleski very much reminds me of how Saint Anne acted towards her daughter Mary. She is so caring and thoughtful of everyone, and she only wants the best. I have learned that Mr. K, our history and computer science teacher, loves to laugh and loves his family. Mr. K is such a funny individual and laughs at many things, which in return, make me laugh as well. I’ll catch him on the phone with his family often and that reminds me of how much I should love and show affection to my own family. I have learned that Sr. Leticia makes many jokes and is truly a caring individual. I wasn’t too familiar with Sr. Leticia at first, because I only saw her so often, but I’m so glad I got to spend time around her. I don’t think she knows she’s funny sometimes because she makes these jokes that truly make me happy without even noticing it. Sr. Leticia really cares for all of us, even though she only sees us so often. Finally, I have learned that Sr. Ernestine, our school president, is famous almost everywhere she goes and has a smile that can brighten any room. Sr. Ernestine has many connections that have given me so many privileges that I am so grateful for and provides me with only the best, while still keeping me humble and full of the presence of God. Not to mention her smile and her comforting touch that brings me back to Earth on days I am way up in the sky. Sr. Ernestine has worked so hard for us, along with all of the administrators and staff, and I am extremely thankful. Learning about the chaperones of this trip has been a blessing, and I’m intrigued to see how these new perspectives will change how I interact with them at school and beyond. God has put me together with these mentors for a reason, and I’m glad to see this reason unfold as the years go by and as I continue my journey as a student in high school.