Forty students and six teachers from St. John’s Prep, Astoria, embarked on an international pilgrimage to better understand their faith, the world, and their school’s heritage. They traveled to Ireland, Wales, England and Paris under the leadership of their director of campus ministry, Cristina Varriale.
The group started in Killarney, County Kerry, where they attended Mass at the Franciscan monastery, toured the Ring of Kerry, participated in a sheep dog expedition, rode a jaunting car through Killarney National Park, and heard some authentic Irish folklore on a the Killarney Ghost Tour.
Next, the group travelled to Dublin via Cork where they had the opportunity to visit Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone. While in Dublin the group was treated to a guided tour of the city, with highlights including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Phoenix Park and the Book of Kells at Trinity College.
From Dublin the group was off to Wales via a fantastic ferry on the Irish Sea. The first stop in Wales was Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrn-robwllllantysiliogogogoch, or Llanfairpwllgwyngyll as it’s known for short, which has the distinction of having the world’s longest name of a village.
After Wales the group set forth for Merry Old England, where the travelers were treated to a guided tour of Shakespeare’s birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon followed by another guided tour in Oxford where students were able to see some of the sites used in the Harry Potter films.
The final destination of the group’s tour was the City of Light, Paris.
In keeping with the school’s Vincentian roots the group was invited to participate in a special Mass celebrated by Vincentian Father Pat Griffin at the Shrine of St. Vincent de Paul.
Students were able to pray before the body of St. Vincent de Paul as well as learn more about the history of St. Vincent and his order, the Vincentians.
The school’s next big adventure will be organized by Spanish teacher, Cathy Lojo, who will be taking students to Barcelona, Florence and Rome in February. Jennifer Cocchi, junior dean, will be taking students to Australia in July. Cristina Varriale will be leading another tour in the spring, this time to Central Europe.