Bishop to lead pilgrimage to Sicily, Rome

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Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde will return to his ancestoral homeland in September when he leads a nine-day pilgrimage to Sicily and Rome.

The bishop's grandmother was born in San Mauro Castle Verde, located along the scenic northern coast of Sicily, while his grandfather was born in Tusa and his father was born in Pollina. All three towns will be visited by the pilgrims Sept. 12, the third day of the pilgrimage.

Bishop Loverde will celebrate two milestones this year: his 75th birthday Sept. 3 and the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood Dec. 18.

The pilgrimage will include daily Mass with Bishop Loverde; a papal audience with Pope Francis; and a special dinner and private Scavi Tour in Rome with diocesan seminarians studying at the North American College.

In addition to Rome, the pilgrims will visit Cefalu, Monreale and Palermo in Sicily, with an optional one-day tour of Assisi.

A separate eight-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land will be led by Father Thomas P. Ferguson, episcopal vicar for faith formation and director of the Diaconate Formation Program. That tour will take place Sept. 3-10 and include visits to Caesarea, Haifa, Mount Carmel, Nazareth, Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The renewal of wedding vows will take place at Cana.

The Holy Land pilgrims will have the option of extending their trip to Rome Sept. 10, or returning to Washington Dulles Airport via Paris.

The Italian pilgrimage will depart Sept. 10 from Washington Dulles Airport for a non-stop, overnight flight to Rome. After a welcome breakfast Sept. 11, the pilgrims will take an afternoon flight to Palermo, followed by a short drive to Cefalu where they will check into the Hotel Alberi del Paradiso.

On day three, Bishop Loverde will celebrate Mass at Casi de Madre.

The pilgrims will depart for Finale Sept. 13, followed by a 30-minute drive along the coast to Caccamo, a city founded by the Normans in 1093.

Day five promises to be memorable, with a morning excursion to picturesque Monreale, which is famous for its treasury of fine mosaics located in the town's great Norman Cathedral. The group will then travel to Hotel Garibaldi in Palermo.

A private tour of Stanze al Genio (Tile Museum) will take place Sept. 15, followed by a visit to Palazzo dei Normanni and Capella Palatine, before returning to the hotel. The pilgrims will then take an afternoon flight back to Rome, with a casual dinner at the Starhotel Michelangelo near the Vatican.

The papal audience will take place Sept. 16, followed by the private Scavi Tour inside St. Peter's Basilica. The bishop will celebrate Mass at 5:30 p.m. at a church near the Vatican, followed by dinner with the seminarians and religious from the diocese at the North American College.

An optional tour of Assisi, made famous by St. Francis of Assisi, will take place Sept. 17. The group will depart Rome Sept. 18.

Find out more

Contact Anne Mathis at 703/841-2516 or; or Teena Dick at Dube Travel, 207/626-0555, or

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015