The adventure of a lifetime – a Pilgrimage to Rome Italy - photo's to follow due to very slow internet connection
Day One – Thursday, April 6 and arrival Friday, April 7– departure for Rome Italy
Remember way back when as a child it felt as if it took a very long time for your birthday or Christmas to arrive or that summer vacation felt as it would last forever in the early dog days of August? For our FNE Timber Wolves and Explorers, it felt that it would be forever before the big day for our departure to Rome Italy would finally arrive.
Together we washed many cars, raked leaves, offered for sale chocolate, cheese, offered pancake breakfasts, help pasta dinner movie nights and walked 20 kilometers and much more to help reduce the cost of the trip.
Meeting and camping with our Italian brother Timber Wolves and Explorers while exciting is a little challenging as our brothers have much more experience then we do in FNE. Our Explorers carefully practiced morose code over and over again just to get it right.
A Pilgrimage is unique to every individual participating, there is no one common outcome or expectation only that we grow in holiness and grow ever stronger in our Catholic faith. Are we open to recognize our Lord in the everyday things, in each other and in those whom we will meet or encounter for the first time? Are we prepared to embrace our Lord and kneel at his feet as we make the best confession of our lives, or to receive him with love and belief in the Holy Eucharist?
While our timber wolves, explorers, leaders and dads attending think that they are prepared for what awaits them, they truly have no idea as to the experience, love, brotherhood, cultural and historical experiences that await them! Stay tuned to learn more in the days to come.
Last night (Wednesday, April 5) we gathered at our home parish of Blessed Trinity to participate in Holy Mass. What a joyful Mass this was as we sang, prayed with deep reverence and happily received our Lord in Holy Communion kneeling and on our tongue as we tried to better understand that for a short period we would be one with our Lord. What an amazing gift this is. If the angels in heaven could be jealous of anything it would be this incredible melding of the one receiving our Lord in the Eucharist!
Time to go to the airport….
Packing last minute items went well into Wednesday evening, checking the packing list not once but two or three times more. Morning could not come early enough for many of our boys, but perhaps a little too soon for the leaders and the dads joining them.
The boys quickly got up, showered and were in their uniforms long before it was time to go. Time to be at the airport to check in, by 2.00 p.m. Many already started to show up just after 1.00 pm as no one wanted to be late. Check in went smoothly as Air Canada designated two check in agents and counters to look after our FNE group. The process went smoothly as Akela reassured some of the boys mothers not to worry from a separation anxiety perspective as a good number of their sons are traveling a great distance without a parent for the first time. Goodbyes where quick with lots of photos taken as we headed through security.
Our uniforms continue to gain positive reactions as most of the boys traveled through screening at a designated station set aside just for our group. The process was fast and efficient with little wait or delay, thank you CATSA! Job well done.
Some of our youth members could not resist picking up a drink and a snack or two to consume along the way because one never knows how long it will be before we eat again. (It was 9.00 p.m. actually). Others made their way promptly to the departure gate to stake out a good seat while we awaited the arrival of the outbound aircraft, a giant Air Canada A330 aircraft.
Before we knew it the time had come to board the aircraft and fortunately for us we boarded after business class so we could stake out enough space in the overhead bins. The aircraft door soon closed and off the plane taxied to the runway. Several the boys squealed with excitement as the giant A330 lumbered down the runway…. just over 25 seconds later the giant plane gracefully lifted off towards our first stop Montreal.
We arrived in Montreal to a cold and wet day, but no bother to us as we walked off one A330 to a neighbouring gate to another A330 aircraft for the eight-hour crossing of the pond (the North Atlantic). With an on-time departure the fully loaded plane chopped through some mild air turbulence, turbulence that the boys hardly noticed as there were preoccupied with the fact that the film system was not working. The flight crew did not want to disappoint the boys, so they reset the system and as the system came back up there was a cheer from our boys! Dinner was great, either a pasta or a chicken dish. In-spite of having snacks before departing either Toronto or Montreal airport every meal was fully consumed within record time. As many a parent knows, their sons always appear to be hungry.
Now it’s time to encourage our timber wolves and explorers to stop watching their individual video screens or to stop doing homework and get some sleep… wish us luck on that one as we are now only five short hours away from arriving in Rome.
Did the boys sleep… over the next almost four hours… as dawn broke, as we flew over the Swiss alps a simple breakfast of cake and juice was served. All in great spirits as the reality of landing in Rome was almost upon us.
A very smooth and a picture perfect landing by the giant A330 with skilled Air Canada pilots at the controls… before we knew it we parked at the gate to deplane at the rear of the plane down giant air stairs to the ramp surface… the timber wolves and explorers delayed boarding the bus as the sights to see were exciting and unique as many an aircraft taxied past us to their specific gates.
Travel through Italian customs was quick and easy given the fact that we are Explorers and carry a Canadian passport. And low and behold our baggage was waiting for us as we cleared customs followed by meeting Luca an Italian leader who welcomed us to Italy and escorted us to our waiting bus.
So, during our 90-minute ride to the Brownsea Camp the national camp for our Italian brothers and sisters did anyone sleep? Nope… too excited as to the sunny warm weather and the adventure that awaits us.
On arrival we quickly explored some of the campsite, found cool caves to explore and made friends with a number of local wild cats before enjoying a meal of home made Italian Lasagna (made by Alberto’s mother in law) and a unique version of Italian pizza. Now we await the arrival of our Italian brothers!
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