Pilgrimage – Humility and Joy

Bus Times

We just returned from a wonderful pilgrimage in Italy where we went with many intentions, but primarily to give thanks to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina for a donation we received that has helped us to get through these difficult financial times.  During our trip, there were many signs that Padre Pio was watching over us.  We carried all you ITI students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and benefactors in our hearts and in our prayers to each shrine.

Loreto - House of the Holy Family

We began the long trip from Trumau on Friday night and “slept” on the bus.  The bus was full of students, faculty, staff and families.  The kids gave the right spirit of joy and enthusiasm.  I am always amazed at their willingness and trust.  You say to a child…”Do you want to go in the car?”  “Yes!” they gleefully reply, and they don’t even know where you are going, for how long, or what it will entail.  I wish we could be that way with God’s plans for our life.  Accepting things with humility and joy.  In a way, that is how our pilgrimage turned out.  We knew something of what lay ahead, but not everything, and had to humbly say, “yes!” to whatever was in store, and God had many beautiful things in mind that gave us a joyful heart.

Our first stop was Loreto where the house of the Holy family was carried by angels to preserve it.  Padre Pio said that Our Lady only appeared in other places, but here she still walks.  We attended Mass at the shrine and prayed in the Holy House that welcomes you with an embracing peace.

Norcia Crypt

Next stop was Cascia, where we were able to visit St. Rita and the lovely city that was glowing with sun and exploding with fall colors.  We then travelled to Norcia to see our dear friends and alumni among the Benedictine monks there, and to sleep there for the night.  After praying in the crypt that houses the birthplace of twins, Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, we explored the town for a bite of their famous Norcia wild boar ham and salami.

Monte Sant'Angelo Chapel

After early Mass in the crypt on Sunday, we drove to Lanciano, home of a Eucharistic miracle and resting place of St. Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Christ’s side with a lance.  Even though the place was about to close when we arrived, they let us in and told us to close the door when we left.  So we had our own quiet special time to spend there with Our Lord.  In a church across the street, we discovered the relics of St. Pantaleone, doctor and martyr.

Monte Sant'Angelo Church

As the sun set,  we climbed high into the hills and then deep into a cave to see the church of St. Michael the Archangel at Monte Sant’Angelo.  St. Michael appeared here and many saints have visited to ask his intercession in the battle against evil.

We curled further into the mounains and reached San Giovanni Rotundo where we lodged for two nights.  Here we found another gift from Padre Pio.  Our hotel upgraded the whole group!  The Hotel is called Pace, V7.  V stands for the family name and 7 for the children of the family.  Padre Pio told the father of the family to buy land and build a hotel there.  They did not have the money at the time, but did so, and the money came for the building. 

On Monday morning we got back into the bus, which had become our second

Divine Liturgy at the altar of the relics of St. Nicholas

home, and drove to Bari to see St. Nicholas.  We were supposed to have Mass at noon, but traffic in the city made us an hour late.  But this was turned into another gift!  Because we were late, we were allowed to celebrate Divine Liturgy in the crypt of St. Nicholas, over his relics, instead of at the main altar. 

Child venerating relics of St Nicholas

Normally, you cannot approach the relics, as there is a big gate surrounding them.  Because we were allowed to have Divine Liturgy there, we were all allowed to venerate the relics of St. Nicholas. 

Divine Liturgy in Bari at the relics of St. Nicholas of Myra

After lunch and photos by the sea, we made a short stop at the tomb of Luisa Piccarreta a servant of God, and then returned to San Giovanni Rotundo where we explored the surroundings, and happened upon a choir concert of different Ave Marias in the new big basilica.  The architecture there by Renzo Piano caused a huge discussion about art, architecture and sacred space which continued into the late hours in the hotel lobby.

Divine Liturgy at Altar where Padre Pio would say Mass

On our final day of the pilgrimage we brought our thanks and petitions and yours to Padre Pio.  We were allowed the honor of having Divine Liturgy at the same altar that Padre Pio would celebrate at daily. 

Mosaic by Padre Pio's Tomb done by Rupnik

Then we visited his tomb and venerated his relics and toured the mosaics by Fr. Marko Rupnik.

We started the 18 hour return bus journey with full hearts.  Thank you Padre Pio and all the great saints we visited on this trip for your many blessings!

ITI pilgrims with our fearless bus drivers

Going on a Pilgrimage – Giving Thanks to God

Tonight we will pile into a bus and head for Italy, that wonderful land of many saints.  We are on our way to visit St. Pio of Pietrelcina and St. Nicholas!  We are going to give thanks specifically for a large donation we received over the summer, but in general for all the many blessings God has given the ITI.  Dear alumni, benefactors and friends of the ITI, we will take you and your intentions with us in prayer.  Photos and more when we return!

The ITI Piano Situation

Grand Cleaning

The beginning of the year brought to the ITI a number of students who have considerable musical abilities and talents, not least a number of pianists. Good use has been made of the upright in Moses Hall (a classroom) up to now in between classes and late into the evenings. But great pianistic talent must be matched by suitably grand instruments and unfortunately, despite the fervent prayers of many, until today the state of our pianos has remained unchanged.

The inventory of ITI pianos runs as follows; in our possession we have a small upright which spends its life in Moses Hall, and a boudoir grand built c.1880 currently living in somewhat forlorn conditions in the Russian Cinema.

Grand piano under boxes on the right in the old Russian Cinema

The potential of both pianos is great, but the actuality is hampered in the upright by its tuning; in the grand, lamentations could be sung of the trials which the grand has been subjected to leaving it in its current derelict state.

Hope is stirring among pianists and music lovers alike though, and through the initiative of some of the pianists, work began on the grand piano a week ago. Some intrepid dismantling led to the cleaning and dusting of the action of the grand piano. It appeared as though there was no life in it prior to cleaning, but the removal of decades of dust, grime and filth works wonders for tired old pianos. Interestingly, this grand piano has a Viennese action which was designed by Johann Andreas Stein in the 18th century. This type of action, in which the hammer faces the pianist, is very well suited to composers such as Bach, Haydn, Beethoven and composers from the same period. The more modern English action developed through the work of Americus Backers and later piano makers evolved it into its common form today with the invention of the repetition lever in the 19th century. The repetition lever allows for rapid successive striking of a key, something difficult to achieve with theVienna action, hence the suitability of different actions to different composers. Suffice it to say that the ITI has a grand piano steeped in history which could sound wonderful with some dedicated restoration.

At this very minute tuning is underway on the upright in Moses Hall and discussions are underway as to the restoration of the grand.

Dismantled, Dusted...can this Grand Piano be Saved?

It is hoped that the grand piano will prove to be a centrepiece in the Russian Cinema and that fortnightly or monthly recitals will begin once the piano and room are in a suitable condition. In the meantime, while work progresses, the students will be grateful and pleased that the one playable piano has been tuned and the corridors will be brought to life with the sound of Chopin, Liszt, Bach and many other of the great composers of the classical tradition.

Singles on the Rise…and What is their Place in Parish Life?

Anastasia Northrop, founder of TOBIA and current ITI student was just interviewed on Zenit about her work with Catholic singles.  The article is aptly named, No Reason to Fear the “S” Word (Single). As the number of singles is rising in the Church (nearly 40% of the Catholic population in the US), ways need to be found to help Catholic singles (not just ‘young adults’) find their place in parish life.  The bottom line?  Simple.  Priests, find ways to include singles in parish life.  Singles…find ways to use your talents for the benefits of your parish.  I’d be interested to know what has been found to work in different parishes. 

See the full article here: http://www.zenit.org/article-33586?l=english

Another Ordination!

Ordination of Br. Basil Nixen, OSB

A group of ITI faculty and students jumped into cars to speed down to Norcia for a quick weekend to witness the ordination and first Mass of our beloved Don Basilio.  He was ordained by His Excellency Renato Boccardo, on Saturday, September 24, 2011.  After he graduated from the ITI, we all eagerly awaited news of his ordination date.  Br. Basil is now Fr. Basil and the weekend was a treat not many of us will forget.  As the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, Norcia is a pilgrimage place – also know for its great prosciutto!  We prayed and feasted and then jumped back into our cars to arrive home just in time for classes.  Fr. Basil, you will be in our prayers as you carry out your ministry!

Studientag – Seminar on the Mission

New Students welcome the school year

We had our very first Studientag at the ITI and I hope it will become a tradition.  The President, Msgr. Dr. Larry Hogan began the day with a talk about the Seven Principles and the Mission of the ITI.  He also spoke about why we do the seminar method and used great props to illustrate his talk;  reading the original sources in the original language was like fresh spring water and reading a translation was like Coke Light.  Hmmm, the waters may have gotten sweeter, but nowhere near as clear.

Sharing the Psalms

Students, staff and faculty then broke into groups to discuss the principles and pillars, as well as two articles written by Cardinal Schönborn on St. Thomas Aquinas as Holy Theologian, and the study of Theology – pitfalls and promises.

A new student from China meets His Eminence

Everyone then walked to the parish church, ten minutes away, for the Mass celebrated by His Eminence, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, the Grand Chancellor of the ITI.  After Mass, we all celebrated the opening of the school year at a nearby Heuriger, where Cardinal Schönborn was able to meet the new students.

Dudaryk visits the ITI and Vienna

Dudaryk Choir in Vienna's Peterskirche

The world famous Ukrainian boy and men’s choir, Dudaryk, stayed at the ITI while they performed at the Peterskirche in Vienna.   They have an amazing sound, specializing in Ukrainian folk and religious songs -listen for yourself here and here.  ITI students were treated to an improptu concert in the courtyard of the campus where the choir voices filled the night air, reaching all four student buildings as everyone hung over their balconies or ran down to the lawn to delight in the first concert on the campus.

Impromptu Concert

A New School Year

A new school year has begun!  Close to 80 students have matriculated and now Australia has been added to the countries represented at the ITI.  Countries this year  (in random order) include: Austria (no kangaroos here), Australia (kangaroos here), Belarus, Slovakia, Germany, the UK, India, USA, China, Ukraine, Nigeria, the Philippines, Georgia, Ireland, Lithuania, Mexico, Czech, Hungary, Myanmar (look it up), the Netherlands, Romania, and Canada.

During orientation, we had our annual talk on “How to sort trash in Austria” for the newcomers.  First though, Academic Dean Bernhard Dolna, named and gave a talk on the three pillars of a student’s life here:  prayer life, study life, and community life.  The orientation meeting ended with a social so we could all get to know one another.

WYD Madrid YOUCAT Reporters

Two ITI students were part of the twelve person international YOUCAT reporting team during World Youth Day in Madrid.  Follow the lives of Niccolo Florencio and Kathleen Wolfe as they blog about their days at www.youcat.org


Summer School “The Study of Western Institutions”


Phoenix Institute Summer School in Trumau, Austria

For the first time, the Phoenix Institute held its annual European summer seminar for “The Study of Western Institutions” on the new ITI campus in Trumau, near Vienna. Close to 30 students from Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Poland spent three weeks studying St. Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle and the history of Vienna as bulwark of the West. The seminars included course-related visits of Heiligenkreuz and

Mexican Night

Klosterneuburg abbeys, as well as guided visits of the various Vienna museums. And, in the long tradition of the Phoenix Institute, international rosaries were prayed and national festive evenings were organized. But the life long friendships that grow out of the summer courses are the great strength of the Phoenix Institute, and this

Gathering for Game Night

year they were stimulated and helped by the atmosphere of the ITI as well, which is built-in study, prayer and community. Two Phoenix students are now in the process of applying for studies at the ITI! The Phoenix Institute will return to the ITI campus in the summer of 2012.

Vienna Trip