A Choir’s Spiritual & Musical Journey to Italy

There is something special that happens in one’s soul when listening to a church choir perform sacred music. And it is particularly stirring when a choir sings in the beautiful, sacred spaces where choral traditions began. The choir’s voices become part of and are enriched by a place of worship that is centuries old, whose walls generously reflect back the songs of prayer.

Giving their talents to the grace of God in these places is often the pinnacle of a choir member’s musical, spiritual journey. We are fortunate to help many choirs realize this dream by offering Catholic Choir tours that weave together the art of the choir’s song, a spiritual pilgrimage, and a cultural journey for life changing experiences in the most renowned Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world.

Churches and other venues, perhaps visited previously, take on a completely different feel when one is privileged enough perform in these spaces. And for fellow parishioners traveling with a Catholic Church choir on a spiritual tour, the experience is equally as moving.

In November 2012, we took the St. John Vianney Catholic Church Choir of Houston, Texas, along with other parishioners from their church, on a spiritual choir tour to Rome. Their paster, Very Rev. Troy Gately, led the group’s spiritual journey, with musical direction provided by Music Director Mr. Michael Madrid.

Listen and watch the video above, as the group’s leaders tell their story of musical spiritual pilgrimage and how their Catholic Choir tour led them to continue to grow in faith as a community.


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Pilgrim Photo Contest Winners Announced

We hope our first-ever Catholic Travel Centre Pilgrim Photo Contest this summer was as much fun for the pilgrims who participated as it was for us. More than 115 of our pilgrim travelers submitted over 700 photos that captured compelling and inspirational moments on their Catholic pilgrimage tours with us.

While each entry was special and very much appreciated, a number of the entries stood out in terms of photographic beauty, visual impact, and inspiration.

  • In the category of Religious & Tourist Sites, Mr. James Smiley from Texas won for his image of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy.
  • In the category of Landscape & Countryside, Ms. Gail Gresser from California won for her image of the Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey.
  • FogartyC_PilgrimsJourney_MountOfOlives_JerusalemIn the category of Pilgrims on a Journey, Ms. Christine Fogarty from North Carolina won for her image of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (shown to the right).

Each category winner was awarded a $100 Visa Gift Card from Catholic Travel Centre. Special congratulations are extended to Mr. Smiley, who also won the Grand Prize for his entry! He was awarded a free round-trip ticket within the continental United States on Delta Air Lines from Catholic Travel Centre.

See for yourself!
We think you’ll be dazzled by the amazing shots here!

If you are on Facebook, Like Us and view all the photos via our page. If Facebook isn’t quite your thing, you can still see all of the photos. Just check out these links for Winning entries, all Religious & Tourist Sites entries, all Landscape & Countryside entries, all Pilgrims on a Journey entries.

A special thanks goes out to Sister Rose Marie Tulacz, SND, a professional photographer in the Los Angeles area, who graciously agreed to be our contest judge.  And thank you once again to everyone who participated, for sharing your images with us, and for allowing us to be a part of your spiritual journey.

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A Wrong Turn Turns Out Right

by Christopher Koch

Have you ever created a careful plan only to see it disintegrate before your eyes?  Sometimes we are so preoccupied with our own courses of action we fail to realize what surprises God might have in store.

When I first met Fr. Larry LoMonaco at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Waynesville, N.C., it wasn’t part of the plan. That day began with a meticulously thought out agenda to visit a dozen churches from Asheville toward Winston Salem in North Carolina to talk with them about their interest in planning a Catholic pilgrimage tour.  With the first two early morning visits accomplished, I was headed to my third appointment, just west of Asheville.

As I drove on, I inadvertently passed my exit and proceeded the next dozen or so miles on I-40. Finally noticing my error and upset that all my careful plotting of an itinerary was crumbling before my eyes, I turned off onto Highway 74.  I ventured in the direction of Waynesville. As long as I was here, I might as well call on a Catholic church — if I could find one — to talk with them their possible interest in a Catholic pilgrimage tour.

Catholic News Herald, Waynesville, NC, Catholic pilgrimage seriesGoogling “Waynesville” and “Catholic Church,” my phone directed me to 234 Church Street. Once inside St. John the Evangelist Church, I made my way to the Blessed Sacrament and prayed – asking our Lord mostly for patience, but also asking God if this parish might be open to traveling with us on a pilgrimage tour.  After spending 15 minutes in silence and now with a better attitude, I made my way to the Rectory.

Fr. Larry LoMonaco openly greeted me at the door, and I asked him if he might be interested in taking his flock on Catholic pilgrimage.  Surprisingly, he shared with me that he just recently returned from pilgrimage tour of the Holy Land, and he was looking to make a pilgrimage to Spain next.  Wow!  Talk about answered prayers!

Fr. Larry and I worked together for months, laying the groundwork for what turned out to be an unbelievable Catholic pilgrimage experience.  Today, I feel a special bond with each person in our group — like a true family member.   While far from it in my mind at the time, I certainly know in my heart today that the wrong turn I took was the right course in God’s providential plan.

Read more about St. John the Evangelist Church’s 11-day Marian pilgrimage to France, Spain, and Portugal, including the Shrine at Lourdes, the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

Christopher Koch works with Catholic Travel Centre’s new clients in developing customized itineraries to meet their Catholic pilgrimage tour needs.

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