Veterans of the Military
St. Francis of Assisi knew from his experience that re-entering society after living in a life-threatening place is a most difficult journey for a human to make. St. Francis had to learn this painful lesson in his own life.
“In violence and where life is threatened” one can easily fall into “a culture of death” that questions God, goodness and the meaning of life. Francis was a passionate soldier who fought against the army of Perugia and was captured and imprisoned. Yet through God’s grace he found life and goodness - God’s light scattered all of the darkness of his heart filling him with a great capacity to love and show compassion.
We think that the journeys of St. Francis and St. Clare through their own life threatening experiences may help you and your loved ones in trying to make sense out of all the good and bad that you have witnessed and felt while in the military. We invite you to walk with us for a while. Together, we can experience God’s love, a healing of memories and a life in peace.
Fr. John Cella, OFM, Director Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs
A Note from Major Greg Masiello, PhD
I’ve always been enamored with St. Francis of Assisi. In fact, I once wrote a screenplay of a playboy reporter who has a run-in with Francis, leading him to Assisi in search of the saint. Of course, he doesn’t find the man there but, rather, is transformed by the lifestyle St. Francis embraced and by those who continue on in his tradition.
They say if you’re going to write about something, it should be something you’re passionate about. I suppose there is a life-lesson there although it was ultimately my intrigue of St. Francis that led me down that path. You can imagine then how thrilled I was to be included in the Franciscan Pilgrimage Program for Veterans. The fact that St. Francis himself was a soldier of war who likely suffered from the effects of PTSD adds to his mystique. There is something about his struggles in war, seeing man’s inhumanity to man; spending time as a prisoner; ailing; and then, afterwards, searching for God in our world that brings him more to life for me. There’s not much difference between his struggles then and the struggle of veterans today. Although it is tough to imagine going to war with a neighboring city, remnants of war remain the same. The fact that St. Francis traveled to the Middle East to broker peace for the crusades underscores these parallels if not highlights the paradox. Many Christians and Muslims are still at odds with each other. Even a fool for Christ, as Francis called himself, wasn’t able to stop this. More striking were his other failings such as to have the order he founded rebel against him. Even his eyesight and body eventually gave out on him. Yet he emerged through the ashes of his life larger than life. There is a life lesson in there somewhere—perhaps we should all strive to be so successful in our failings. For that reason alone I take solace in the fact that my screenplay has only sat on a shelf all these years.
Sample Pilgrimage Program
The actual program schedule varies according to length of the pilgrimage and days of the week. (E.g.; A Papal Audience is possible only on Wednesdays). This example is provided to give the pilgrim a general idea of the pilgrimage content. Your program will have differences.
Day 1 Leave USA for Rome
Day 2 Arrive Rome
- 11:00 AM Arrival at Fiumicino Airport (Rome)
- 2:00 PM Pranzo (Midday Meal) Riposo (Rest)
- 4:00 PM Orientation to Rome and Pilgrimage in the Hotel Chapel
- 5:00 PM Meet in the lobby to begin a walking tour of Rome
- 7:00 PM Cena (Evening meal) out at your own expense
Day 4 Bags in lobby before going down to breakfast
- 6:30 AM Colazione
- 7:00 AM Bus leaves for Poggio Bustone
- 9:00 Arrival at Poggio Bustone
- 8:40 Piazza del Comune : Brief orientation to the city Proceed to the Cathedral of San Rufino
- 12:00 Noon Prayer Ritual in the modern chapel Bus leaves for the town of Greccio Pranzo di Natalie (Christmas dinner) at Il Belvedere
- 2:30 Bus leaves for Assisi
- 4:00 Arrival in Assisi’s Piazza Matteotti Luggage transferred by taxi; proceed on foot to our Assisi home: Casa Papa Giiovanni
- 6:00 Orientation to Assisi in Conference Rooom
- 6:45 Meet in lobby to proceed to the Piazza Superiore di San Francesco
- 7:30 PM Cena
- 8:15 PM Rooftop discussion
- 6:30 AM Colazione
- 7:15 Taxis depart for the Porziuncola
- 8:30 Eucharist in the Porziuncola Chapel.
- 9:30 Historical visit of the Basilica and early convent
- 11:30 Proceed to the grounds of Domus Pacis for your picnic lunch
- 1:00 PM Proceed by public bus to the Shrine of Rivo Torto
- 2:00 Prayer at the WWII Cemetery
- 2:30 Taxis take the group to the Shrine of San Damiano. Historical visit with Healing Ritual. Return to Assisi Free time. Cena out at personal expense
Depart for St. John Lateran
Walk to Coliseum
- 6:45 AM Colazione
- 7:30 Depart for the Basilica of St. Francis
- 8:00 Eucharist at the Tomb of St. Francis
- 9:00 Historical visit to the Upper and Lower Basilicas
- 1:00 PM Pranzo festivo
- 2:00 Evaluation and Feedback, Free time, Cena out at personal expense
5:00 AM Luggage in the front lobby, “Grab ‘n Go” breakfast, Proceed to Parcheggio B
- 5:30 Bus leaves for Fiumicino Airport
|2019||May 23 - 31 - Nine Days|
|Per person from USA. Includes airfare from New York City or Chicago (connecting flights not included) and all expenses except for a few meals.||$2000||Although the cost of the pilgrimage is $3900 per person, we ask $1900 from veterans. Scholarships are available for Veterans only.|
The terrain in Assisi and Rome is uneven, making it difficult for handicapped mobility. "Barrier free" is not a description of Italy. People with physical handicaps will find the pilgrimage too difficult because of lack of accessibility.