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placeholder March 28, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
Pilgrimage offers opportunity to 'draw ever closer'

As a spiritual adviser for the upcoming Catholic Voice-sponsored Year of Mercy pilgrimage to Italy, Rev. Jayson Landeza offered some insight on how a pilgrimage can enhance a person's faith life.

For Californians, such as himself, Father Landeza said the pilgrimage will recalibrate what is meant by "old." While Californians might think of the missions as old, wait until they get to Rome.

"You go to Rome, you look at the Colosseum, that's ancient," he said. "There's something magical that connects you: This Catholic faith has historical perspective in the midst of that."

Father Landeza, pastor of St. Benedict Church in Oakland, spoke to about 50 people March 12 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light Parish Hall, who are considering joining the pilgrimage, which departs from San Francisco Oct. 20 for Italy.

"You think about the Catholic faith," he said, "we go back these many years. If you ever doubt that, go to Rome and see firsthand."

One can also see how the church has grown and progressed — and even struggled with itself — in the architecture and churches the pilgrims will encounter.

People of faith throughout the centuries, in their own way, tried to express what that faith meant for them" he said. "Within that historical context, it's a wonderfully enlightening perspective on our own faith. You can't look at something and not be touched by the connection to the past," he said.

Standing at the tomb of St. Peter, or at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, for example, leaves one with the feeling, "This is where it all began."

Such experiences, he said, leaves one not only with the sense of the church's history, but that "it's a living faith to this very day."

If you've never been to a Wednesday papal audience, Father Landeza said, pilgrims will "get a larger sense of the Catholic Church in its global perspective. You get that and feel that."

Alongside tens of thousands of other pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, he said, "you get a sense of how immense the church is, and its diversity."

The pilgrimage begins in Venice, with stops in Padua, Bologna, Florence, Siena and Assisi before reaching Rome.

In this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica will be open. It was last open in 2000.

"The Mass is one of the highlights of the day," said Jason Ertel, Pentecost pilgrimage consultant. Mass is not celebrated in hotel lounges or on buses.

Masses are planned, subject to confirmation, at Basilico di San Marco and Chiesa di San Salvatore in Venice; Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua; Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence; Basilica of St. Francis in Assis; and St. Praxedes and the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Ertel noted that the company presenting the pilgrimage, Pentecost Tours, is a Catholic pilgrimage company based in Batesville, Indiana. "All we do is put on Catholic pilgrimages," he said. "We like to think we do them very well because that's what we focus on."

"My hope would be in this pilgrimage that you would grow closer to your faith that extends these many centuries; you grow close to people who share that faith in the geographic area we call the Diocese of Oakland; and you see the diversity of that faith being expressed in a global sense," said Father Landeza.

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