Friday, May 30, 2014

The Final Thoughts, by Tony Smela

6am Mass was striking for me this morning.  Three of our members had already taken off for more adventures in Switzerland, England, and France.  Five more of our members will stay in Rome until Tuesday.  Eleven of us are now sitting in the airport in Rome awaiting our flight to Detroit.

This Pilgrimage is over.

Thirty days of sweat, pain, lack of personal space and time, headaches, stomachaches, dehydration, sore muscles, sleep deprivation, living out of a suitcase, constant travel, and death to self.

Thirty days of prayer, amazement, wonder, closeness to the humanity and divinity of God, fraternity, joy, beautiful liturgy, intercession, etc.

Once we step off the plane in Detroit, we will be back.  Back where everyone speaks English.  Back where you don't have to pay for bottled water.  Back to where we don't have to live out of a suitcase.  Back in our comfort zone.  Back to our friend and family.  Home.

But Israel and Rome will never leave us.  We will take our experiences and share them with all of you.  The way we pray will never be the same.  The way we experience our faith will never be the same.  The way we read Scripture will never be the same.  And hopefully, some of what we have experienced will rub off on you.

For a pilgrimage is never meant just for the one who travels the roads, sees the places, and goes on the tours.  The pilgrimage is meant for everyone the pilgrim returns to.  The pilgrim experiences God so that he may share that experience with those close to him.

But we also know that none of this would have been possible for us without your support.  This incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience that many people will never have the opportunity to experience is made possible to us because of you.  So, from all of us, thank you.

Thank you for all the sacrifices you made to make this possible.

My name is Tony Smela, and I have been the man behind the blog.  I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have enjoyed creating it.  This will be the last update to the blog.  God bless!

Tony Smela, signing off.


  1. Thank you for sharing all of the sights, sounds, and feelings of your pilgrimage. It has been a blessing for all of us following along, as I know it has been for all of you. May God continue to bless you along your journey. Welcome home!

  2. Thank you so much for creating this blog, Tony. It was so much easier to follow the men on this pilgrimage than it was when my son, Fr. Eric went to Israel and Rome - you have come a long way, in more ways than one!