Faith on the Move: Kirk Whitney

Kirk and Debbie Whitney, Rome

Kirk and Debbie Whitney, Rome

Sometimes my work helps me meet friends half a world a way, but sometimes I find new friends in the New Evangelization right in my own hometown. Such is the case for today’s “Faith on the Move” spotlight traveler, Kirk Whitney. Kirk is an amazing husband, dad, grandfather, educational professional, and writer. He’s currently in the midst of penning a new series which he’ll be sharing with Catholic Tourist beginning on Wednesday. “Man on a Mission” will take us on a virtual tour of the California Missions. Today, I’m happy to introduce my fellow Fresnan, Kirk Whitney.


Kirk Whitney




Fresno, CA


Social Media Links:

Google+: Kirk Whitney Facebook: Kirk Whitney

How often do you travel?

We try to travel at least once a month, in our current situation, it is difficult to be away from home for more than one or two days. Fortunately we live in the center of California, so even that limitation offers us many great destinations to choose from.

Where are some of your favorite destinations?

Italy has been our favorite so far. Most of our travel has been domestic. Boston, Washington DC and believe it or not, Los Angeles and Kansas City are among our favorite cities.

How is travel a spiritual experience for you? How do you turn any travel opportunity into a pilgrimage?

I was travel averse when I was younger. I got a bit more relaxed about travel in my thirties. (You have to relax when you are on a road trip with three kids.) When I started to travel a lot for work, my research on cities usually included places to go to church. I’ve had the pleasure of attending mass at some interesting and historically significant churches. Some of these include, the Cathedral of St. Augustine (The first Catholic Church in North America), The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Duomo in Florence. Attending mass or just visiting a church in a new place can turn even a simple weekend trip into a pilgrimage.

Have you ever had a “travel nightmare”? How did your faith help you through the experience?

We booked a tour with a “Catholic” tour company that went bankrupt just before our scheduled departure. We were all packed up with no place to go. We were crushed initially, but resolved to not “let our hearts be troubled”. We got in our car, and took a road trip through Southern California and Nevada (yes, Vegas!). Once we recovered our money (From the tour company, not Las Vegas), we booked a tour with an established secular tour company. We still managed to have a very “Catholic” experience on our own while on the tour. High points included a private (36 people), 40 minute viewing of the Sistine Chapel and the opportunity to attend a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square. Things we would not have experienced if not for our “disaster” the year before. Keep Calm, Carry On, Have Faith.

What advice would you give to a fellow Catholic tourist?

Get the Catholic “scoop” on cities before you visit. You may find a shrine, or other point of interest that goes beyond just finding a place to meet your Sunday obligation.

What destination is on your “must see” list for the future?

Andalusia, Flannery O’Connor’s Georgia estate, There is also much that we missed in Rome our 1st time around so we would like to go back soon, and of course the 15 Missions that we have yet to visit this year as our Year of Faith Pilgrimage.

What are some of your favorite tourism related websites, apps and books?

Google Maps, Trip Advisor and Yelp are the obvious go-to resources. Magnificat and Hail Mary for iPhone help with the “prayer anywhere” part of travel. While abroad, I found the Rick Steves’ travel books both useful and entertaining.

Do you have any additional comments you’d like to share with our readers?

Attending mass in a strange city or another country is a powerful experience. Since the Mass and the readings for a particular day are the same the world over, you really get tuned in to the power of the Universal Church. Travel has led me to a better appreciation of the Mass and attending Mass has given me a better appreciation of travel.

Visit Kirk Whitney at or

Copyright 2013 Lisa M. Hendey

About Lisa M. Hendey

As a Catholic who loves her faith and a frequent adventurer who’s always up for a new journey, Lisa is a wife and mom, a writer, a speaker and an impassioned traveler. Visit her at to keep up with her comings and goings.