Rome/Assisi pilgrimage - May 2024

 Rome/Assisi pilgrimage - May 2024

By Deidre Casey
Assistant Director of Campus Ministry

1:30 am on the Monday after graduation weekend, the excitement and joy in the Cube parking lot rang through the night as 33 Carroll students and staff, led by Fr. Tyler Frohlich and Fr. Marc Lenneman, gathered to caravan to Bozeman for our early flight, beginning a two-week pilgrimage through Rome and Assisi in the footsteps of the Saints.

Hiking up into Assisi 36 hours later and first laying eyes on the Basilica of Saint Francis, that joy and excitement grew even greater.  Our four days in Assisi included a beautiful mass at the Tomb of St. Francis, time with St. Clare and the San Damiano cross (after which our own All Saints Chapel crucifix is modeled) in the Basilica of St. Clare, a visit to Blessed Carlos Acutis, a hike to the hermitage where St. Francis spent many of his prayer and reflection hours, a lovely afternoon in the peace of San Damiano chapel and monastery where Clare lived, and a brief visit to the Portiuncula in lower Assisi as we headed out to Rome.

Our 8 days in Rome began with a breathtaking approach to St. Peter's Basilica and were filled with visits to beautiful churches and encounters with many Saints along the way, from Sts. Peter and Paul, to St. Helena and many other beloved Heavenly friends, including St. Cecilia, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Monica, St. Padre Pio, St. Sebastian, and St. Philip Neri just to name a few!

Over the two weeks in Rome and Assisi, it was great to grow in relation with my fellow pilgrims but also with the saints! There are some amazing saints that walked where we were walking and to feel their presence and prayers was amazing. There was definitely some powerful intercession happening that we all were aware of. A couple of moments that stick out in particular are the Mass we had at St. Francis' tomb, and getting to experience baby Penelope being blessed by the Pope! Overall I formed lifelong relationships both with those who have gone before us and those I was on pilgrimage with and I have memories that will last a lifetime! 
Terra Hurt, Class of 2025

We also had some great moments with our Diocese of Helena and other American seminarians at the Pontifical North American College, sharing in evening prayer, mass, and great views from the top of the college.

On Wednesday morning, we joined the weekly Papal audience in St. Peter's Square where we received Pope Francis's blessing as he passed nearby, and we were overjoyed when he stopped to bless baby Penelope, from an American family with us whom we had befriended earlier in the week! We soaked in his address on humility as we celebrated with our universal church, surrounded by the languages and laughter of other pilgrims from all over the world.

The memories and relationships formed on pilgrimage together this May are foundational along our journey of faith, meant to be brought into the lives of others in our witness of love and grace. Thank you for your support and prayers in helping to provide this opportunity for so many from our Carroll community!

Some moments on pilgrimage were like the final act of things which had been progressing in my life for a long time; like praying in the original San Damiano chapel, a place which I have longed to see for years. Other moments, like stepping inside of St. Peter’s basilica, made me feel like I was taking my very first exciting step in my faith all over again, due to the realization of just how vast this faith of ours is. 
Jack Snouwaert, Class of 2024

I was confirmed in the Catholic Church only a month before the Rome Pilgrimage and it was such an out of body and surreal experience. At times it was a little overwhelming to not know everything but so beautiful to see the Catholic Church so vibrant around the world! I am so thankful for saying yes to this pilgrimage as it not only deepened my connection to our Lord, but to the Catholic Church and other pilgrims who attended. 
Caitlyn Vermulm, Class of 2025