ALLOUEZ — The Compass will sponsor a 12-day pilgrimage to Greece next October. Some of the trip’s highlights include ferry ship transportation to Patmos, a chartered yacht from Patmos to Kusadasi, and tours of to some of the places visited by St. Paul.
Fr. Luke Ferris, vicar for clergy and pastoral leaders for the Diocese of Green Bay, will lead the pilgrimage. Pilgrims will depart from Green Bay by bus for Chicago on Tuesday, Oct. 11, and return on Saturday, Oct. 22.
“I’ve always been intrigued by the voyages of St. Paul and the early Christian communities he helped establish. Exploring Greece and Turkey will be faith-filled and fun,” said Fr. Ferris. “Reliving the travels of St. Paul, sharing the lives of the first Christians and visiting the last home of Mary, are a wonderful way for us to deepen our faith.”
Among the daily highlights of the pilgrimage are:
Oct. 12: Arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece, home of the Thessalonians, to whom St. Paul wrote two letters. After hotel check-in and a welcome snack, pilgrims will retire for the first of a two-night stay.
Oct. 13: Start the day with a visit to Philippi, where St. Paul delivered his first sermon in Europe (read Acts 16:12-18). It was here that St. Paul baptized Lydia, believed to be the first Christian convert in Europe. Pilgrims then make a trip to the port city of Kavala, followed by Mass and return to Thessaloniki for dinner and rest.
Oct. 14: Begin the day with Mass at the cathedral in Thessaloniki, followed by a tour of historic sites, such as the triumphal Arch of Galerius,before departing for Kalambaka to see the ageless Monasteries of Meteora. Check in at the hotel and enjoy dinner.
Oct. 15: After Mass, travel to Athens, capital of Greece, with a brief stop in Delphi. A spiritual program will be given onboard our motorcoach. Upon arrival in Athens, check-in for a two-night stay and enjoy dinner with the group.
Oct. 16: Visit the rock of the Acropolis to see the ruins of the Parthenon, Erechtheum and Propylaea. Afterwards, ascend Mars Hill where St. Paul spoke to the ancient Athenians. A panoramic drive of the city follows, with views of the House of Parliament, the Panathenaic Stadium where the first Olympics of the modern era were held, the temple of the Olympian Zeus and Adrian’s Arch. Mass will be celebrated in Athens, with the rest of the day at leisure and dinner with the group.
Oct. 17: Travel to Ancient Corinth, where St. Paul lived for two years, preaching and ministering, and where he wrote two Letters to the Corinthians. Visit the ruins of the ancient city where Paul worked with Aquila and Priscilla and where Paul’s trial by Gallio took place. Return to Athens for dinner before heading to the port to board a ferry ship service to the Island of Patmos. Upon a late arrival in Patmos, hotel rooms await the group.
Oct. 18: Pilgrims will spend a full day in Patmos, where they journey to the village of Chora, home of the Monastery of St. John. Afterwards, travel to the nearby Grotto of the Apocalypse, where the Monastery of the Apocalypse stands. The Grotto is reputed to be the place where the Book of Revelation (The Apocalypse) was written. Silver niches on the wall mark the pillow and ledge used as a desk by St. John the Evangelist. The Grotto has a three-fold crack (emphasizing the Holy Trinity), through which St. John heard the Voice of God and saw the visions written down in the Book of Revelation. Mass will be celebrated, then pilgrims return to hotel for dinner.
Oct. 19: After breakfast, check-out and board a private charter ship to the Port of Kusadasi, Turkey. After arrival, take a short drive to the town of Selcuk and visit Ephesus, famous for St. Paul’s Letters to the Ephesian and for the great Church Council of Ephesus (A.D. 421). Visit the Odeon Theatre, the Hadrian Temple and see the Celsus Library and the Great Theatre, which dates back to the Hellenistic period. Next, a trip to the hills of Mt. Koressos, where the chapel, Meryemana Evi or Meryem Ana Evi – “Mother Mary’s House” – is located. Local tradition tells us that the Blessed Virgin Mary lived here with St. John, to whom she was entrusted by Jesus before he died on the cross. This place is a precious shrine to both Muslims and Christians. Mass will be celebrated at Mary’s House. Return to hotel for dinner.
Oct. 20: Tour two of “the Seven Churches of Revelation” during a visit to ancient Pergamum (Bergama), center of the rule for the Roman Empire. Sights include the Asklepion, an ancient healing center, the Acropolis with its pagan temples, Altar of Zeus and the Temple of Trajan. Then, visit Thyatira, the smallest of the Seven Churches. Mass will be celebrated at Pergamon, Thyatira or Izmir. Later, travel to Izmir Airport for flight to Istanbul.
Oct. 21: Enjoy a tour of Istanbul with a visit to the Blue Mosque, whose six minarets dominate the Hippodrome skyline. Then, visit Hagia Sophia, the greatest church in Christendom for 1,000 years. It is an architectural wonder and a testament of the beauty of the Byzantine Empire. Enjoy an afternoon visit to the Grand Bazaar, followed by a farewell Mass at a Catholic church in Istanbul.
Oct. 22: Transfer to Istanbul Airport and prepare to undergo security and health protocols. Board a nonstop flight to Chicago, where pilgrims will be processed by U.S. Homeland Security.
Cost for this pilgrimage is $5,199 per person with double occupancy. This includes hotels, ferry ship, chartered yacht, tips and most breakfasts and dinners. Single rooms are an additional $899. An optional roundtrip coach bus is available from Green Bay to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for an additional $100.