In June 2013 parishioners under the direction of Fr. Gerry Moore travelled to Rome on Pilgrimage.
You can read more about their adventure in the following article courtesy of Robert Gahan.
SANDYFORD PARISH PILGRIMAGE TO ROME AND ASSISI
By Robert Gahan
When the Parish Pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi in June 2013 was announced back in November, 2012, nobody expected the historic changes. Within a matter of months Pope Benedict XVI, due to ill-health, became the first Pope to resign in office for almost 600 years and he was succeeded by Pope Francis, an Argentinian Cardinal of Italian background.
As a result we were one of the earliest Irish groups to attend a Papal Audience with Pope Francis. However, to start at the beginning. We left Sandyford on Monday 10th June under the direction of Father Gerry Moore and after Mass at the Dublin Airport Church, we travelled to Rome where we were met by the tour manager, Sinead Howe, and brought to our hotel in sight of the Vatican! All went together for a welcome meal in a nearby restaurant picked out by Father Gerry during an earlier “recce” of the area.
Early mornings were the orders so on Tuesday we were up and out early for 8am Mass in the Chapel of St. Columban in St. Peter’s Basilica, with an afternoon guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and an evening trip to experience night-life around the Pantheon area.
We heard that record crowds were attending the Papal Audiences so Wednesday breakfast was brought forward to 7am where we were joined by Father Peter already in Rome on other business. Fr Peter had crossed St. Peters’ even earlier and seen the crowds, so we were in the security queues by 7.20am! Even then all 80,000 seats were filled! However our experienced guides, Fathers Gerry and Peter and Sinead got us shaded places to sit as we awaited the Pope. True to his known concern for the pilgrims in 35 degrees or more he arrived about 45 minutes early but in the interim we had the pleasure of hearing St. Mary’s Sandyford called out as the Irish group in the congregation. Even without knowing Italian one could feel the strength of the Pope’s address and the approval of the huge Italian section.
On Thursday morning we left early for Assisi stopping en route to visit the Catacombs of Priscilla and to have Mass underground where so many Christians were buried 1,600 years ago. In Assisi our hotel was literally across the street from the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli where we had the opportunity of taking part in the candlelight procession that evening.
Friday Saturday and Sunday were equally busy and worthwhile with visits to Siena, Perugia and Sunday Mass in the Basilica of St. Francis. Monday was departure day. We had a surprise as after Mass in San Damianoa. We took the coach for Rome and arrived for lunch beside the beach at Fumicino and spent the afternoon beside or in the water before heading for home.
It was a most uplifting and enjoyable week thanks to the care and efforts Fathers Gerry, Peter and our guide Sinead – a native of Carrickmines, living in Rome for 16 years and with a sister living in Stepaside! Above all, this Pilgrimage was a pleasure because everybody made friends, sat together in bus or at table and looked after those of us not as active as the rest.