Catholic Blogger Plans for First Pilgrimage to Rome

Editor’s note: I’m very grateful to my friend and fellow Catholic writer Monica McConkey of¬†for sharing her exciting plans for an upcoming trip to Rome! I’m honestly so thrilled that Monica will have this experience — I can’t wait to follow her while she’s in Rome and hear her adventures when she returns. Lisa

Catholic Tourist Rome pic

I’m going to ROME next month!

St Gemma’s Catholic Pilgrimages has graciously selected ME as their Official Catholic Blogger! I’m going to Rome with them on their Sept 22-Oct 3, 2014 Pilgrimage!

Here are some things I’ve learned as I prepare for my Catholic Pilgrimage.

1. Find a great Catholic Tour company…like St Gemma’s Catholic Pilgrimages It’s Catholic!…and Mike and Sue are awesome hosts!

2. Pray. Prepare to encounter Christ! This is a Catholic Pilgrimage; not just a guided tour. Here is how Mike and Sue explain the difference between the two:

“We don’t provide guided tours, we provide guided pilgrimages. A tour’s focus is the history of a place. A pilgrimage focuses on the sacredness of a place. These two sometimes intersect, but our Faith is always the focus of St Gemma’s Catholic Pilgrimages. The purpose of a guided pilgrimage is to encounter Christ through His Catholic Church. We encounter Him at the sacred places we journey to, at the tombs of the saints we find there, in the fellow pilgrims we journey with, and in the Vicar of Christ who teaches us about Him.”


3. Consider and invite WHO you would like to travel with. I recommended an awesome chaplain…and it was confirmed that Fr. Scott McCaig will indeed be the chaplain for our pilgrimage Sept 22, 2013- Oct 3, 2014! Fr. Scott McCaig is the General Superior of the Companions of the Cross…and he’s a close family friend whose vocation we confirmed through his stay with us a week after our first baby was born.

Meet Fr. Scott.

I think Mike and Sue will be great travel buddies too!

3. Research WHERE you want to visit and PRIORITIZE. I recommend this book that I continue to LOVE: The Pilgrim’s Guide to Rome’s Principal Churches.

guide book

I am also so happy to have received this book: Rome and the Vatican by Kenneth and Elizabeth Nowell, available through Vero House Publishing.

Rome and Vatican

4. Talk to people who have gone to ROME and glean their highlights and words of caution…

I like to talk to Mike and Sue because they have been to Rome so many times and know just what it takes to run a Catholic pilgrimage. I also appreciate talking to Lisa Hendey because she travels so much and documents her travels so well!

Bill and Joe5. Figure out WHO IS GOING TO HELP MY HUSBAND look after our FIVE kids for TWELVE whole days!

6. Consider TIMING re: weather, tourist season, big Feast Days and/events. This is what Mike and Sue say about visiting Rome in the fall: “the highs are in the low 70’s and the lows near 50. Rome gets an average rainfall of about 3 inches per month in the spring and 4 inches per month in the fall. Overall, these are the best months to be walking through Rome — when it’s not too hot and not too cold.”

7. Brush up on ITALIAN!…although Mike and Sue say “…you don’t need to know Italian. A phrase book is helpful, but Italians in Rome often speak English and are very friendly and helpful”.

Lisa Hendey said pretty much the same thing…although she did learn “a tiny bit of Italian, just to be polite” and recommended DuoLingo. Lisa says it’s free and very fun!

Easy ItalianMike and Sue also recommend Rick Steves’ Italian Phrase Book & Dictionary and I picked up the Easy Italian Phrase Book: 770 Basic Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Language Guides Italian) and tucked it into an Amazon order to get free shipping.

8. Get my walking shoes on! Mike and Sue say that we don’t have to be in excellent physical condition, but we do need to be able to walk up to a mile at a time on our own. I want to see a lot…so I expect to do a lot of walking!

I’m going to ROME! Do you want to come too? Check out St Gemma’s Catholic Pilgrimages to check available dates for 2014 and 2015 trips to ROME including the Pope Paul VI Beatification Tour, staying at the House of St Bridget October 16-26, 2014.

About Monica McConkey

monica mcconkeyMonica, mom of 5, is usually blogging about Catholic crafts and family traditions at She is the author of A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families, Hand in Hand with Jesus (a Faith Journal through the Sacraments) and a series of paper Cathletics Craft Kits and Cathletics quizzing cards to help teach the Catholic Faith. The Catholic teaching tools and gifts are available through Arma Dei, the Catholic family publishing company founded with her husband Bill. Monica is also one of the founders of the Catholic Bloggers Network, a venue to link and promote Catholic blogs.

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