The Spiritual Treasures of Eastern Europe

A Pilgrimage to Poland, Prague, and Budapest
With Friends and Advocates of Lesbian and Gay Catholics – March 25 to April 3, 2003

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Tuesday, March 25 – Annunciation – Day 1

This evening we depart for Warsaw from JFK International Airport via Paris. We will be served complimentary beverages, in-flight movies, dinner, and breakfast aloft.

Wednesday, March 26 – Day 2

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The Royal Castle, Warsaw

We arrive early this morning at Okecie International Airport, Warsaw. After clearing arrival formalities, we board our motor coach and begin our morning sightseeing tour of Warsaw. We will visit Old Town, where each historic building has been painstaking and lovingly reconstructed after the destruction during World War 11, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Memorial of the Warsaw Uprising, the Memorial of the Ghetto Heroes, Lazienki Park to view Chopin’s Monument, St. John the Baptist Cathedral, and the Royal Castle.

In the afternoon, we attend Mass at St. Jacob’s Church. Late afternoon check-in at our hotel in Warsaw. We gather for introductions of old and new friends. Dinner and overnight.

Thursday, March 27 – Day 3

This morning we will celebrate Mass at St. John’s Cathedral, Warsaw’s oldest architectural monument dating back to 1338 and rebuilt from the ruins of World War II. Following Mass, we will depart to Niapokalanow, home of the monastery built by St. Maximillian Kolbe. Finally, we visit the Church of St. Stanislas Kostka. Here, we see the memorial to former pastor Father Popieleski who was martyred in the early days of the Solidarity Movement before the fall of Communism. Return to our hotel for an overnight stay.

Friday, March 28 – Day 4

After breakfast, we will board our motor coach for a three-hour ride to Czestochowa where we will make our way to the monastery complex of Jasna Gora to visit the Marian Shrine. Jasna Gora consists of a Gothic/ Baroque church, a Baroque monastery and fortress. This is where the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Black Madonna) has been preserved. We will tour this shrine and celebrate Mass. We continue on our route to visit the interesting Nowa Hutt, the model city constructed by the Communists. Although the plans of Nowa Hutt did not include a church, Pope John Paul II, then bishop of Krakow, persuaded the Communist government to build one. We continue on to Krakow for dinner and overnight. We will gather this evening for sharing about the pilgrimage.

Saturday, March 29 – Day 5

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Auschwitz Concentration Camp

This morning we will celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Florian, where John Paul II served as a curate, and where he lived while university chaplain. Afterwards, we meet our guide and begin our sightseeing tour. Our first stop is the courtyard of 16th century Royal Castle, and Wawel Cathedral, where generations of Polish Kings are buried. We then take a walking tour of Old Town, visiting some of the treasures of this wonderful old city. We will view the Town Hall Tower and the Cloth Hall, located on the same site since the 14th century, the 15th century Collegium Maius in the oldest university area and St. Mary’s Church. Here we enjoy the ancient tradition of the “Hejnal” or bugle call from the Tower, which warned residents of the coming of an enemy.

After some free time for lunch, we travel to the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp with its Martyrdom Museum. Pope John Paul II visited the cell of St. Maxmillian Kolbe at Auschwitz in June 1979 on his first visit to Poland after becoming Pope. Finally, on return, we visit the newly built Basilica of the Divine Mercy, the home of St. Sister Faustima. We will see the convent and visit with the Sisters there. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Sunday, March 30 – Day 6

After breakfast we depart Krakow and travel to Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. En route we pass by the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Benedictine Monastery where the Holy Father often prayed and walked the Stations of the Cross. In Wadowice, we celebrate Mass in the parish church where the Holy Father was baptized and afterwards we visit the museum in his small family home. We continue to Prague and our hotel for dinner and overnight. We will gather this evening for prayer and reflection.

Monday, March 31 – Day 7

After breakfast, we begin our tour of Prague at Castle Hill and visit St. Vitus Cathedral, Wladislav Hall and Golden Lane. We will visit-the famous Infant Jesus of Prague at the Church of Our Lady of Victory, where we will celebrate Mass. Our afternoon tour of Prague will include the Old Town with Astronomical clock, Jewish Quarter and Charles Bridge. We also see the statue of Saint King Wenceslaus. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.

Tuesday, April 1 – Day 8

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St. Matthias Church / Buda Castle, Budapest

Today, following Mass here, we depart Prague and travel to Budapest. On route, we cross into and out of Slovakia and enjoy the scenic routing. We will stop for lunch on our own and later arrive in Budapest for dinner and overnight at our hotel. We will gather this evening for sharing with members of an ecumenical gay/lesbian group.

Wednesday, April 2 – Day 9

This morning we drive to the Royal castle in Buda, where we will visit Fishermen’s Bastion and the beautiful Gothic St. Matthias Church. Afterwards, we continue to the Citadel, where we enjoy the best view over the Danube and the lower city of Pest. Later, we cross the Elizabeth Bridge to the Market Hall and the pedestrian center, where we will have free time for lunch on our own. In the afternoon, drive through the City Park to Hero’s Square, then past the Opera and Parliament. We conclude our day with a visit and Mass at St. Stephen’s Basilica. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Thursday, April 3 – Day 10

This morning we transfer to the airport in Budapest to board our short flight to Paris where we board our flight to the USA arriving later today.