Bishop rediscovers his ancestry in Sicily

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This fall, the Diocese of Arlington Pilgrimage Program officially was launched with two extraordinary pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Sicily and Rome.

"Andiamo with Bishop Loverde," promised and delivered a once-in-a-lifetime experience for more than 50 parishioners and friends of the diocese as they experienced both a personal and spiritual journey with Bishop Loverde.

During each of the 10 days spent together, Mass was celebrated, prayers of thanksgiving were shared, wonderful Sicilian and mainland Italian culinary delights were enjoyed and new friendships were forged.

The itinerary highlights included travel to the northern coast of Sicily for a stay in the seaside town of Cefalu and a visit to the three mountaintop towns of Tusa, San Mauro Castel Verde and Pollina, where Bishop Loverde's maternal and paternal ancestors came from.

Walking with Bishop Loverde through these ancient and vibrant towns, travelers interacted with the warm and welcoming citizens of these villages and experienced the beauty and simplicity of Sicilian life while the bishop connected with distant relatives and strangers alike. Pilgrims marveled at the exquisite mosaics in the cathedrals in Cefalu and in Monreale, near Palermo.

In Rome, pilgrims were privileged to be seated close to the Holy Father as he concluded his catechetical series on "Marriage and the Family" at the Sept. 16 general audience. Bishop Loverde greeted Pope Francis at the conclusion of the audience, assuring him of our diocesan family's prayers and loyalty.

Pilgrims had the opportunity to venture on their own to visit the four major basilicas, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, and the Scavi below St. Peter's Basilica. Some took a side-trip to Assisi and all participated in Mass offered at the Christo Re Altar in the crypt, facing the tomb of St. Peter. Afterwards, Bishop Loverde prayed quietly at the Altar of the Chair where he was ordained a priest Dec. 18, 1965.

Find out more

For more information about future pilgrimages, call Anne Mathis, director of the Leadership Initiative, at 703/841-3516 or e-mail her at a.mathis@arlingtondiocese.org.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015