Saint Katherine Drexel Shrine to be closed

It was announced in May 2016 that the Order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament is going to sell the 44-acre Bensalem estate housing its mother house and the Shrine of Saint Katherine Drexel.  

Declining numbers and the need to care for retired Sisters, along with maintenance costs, were cited as the reasons for the closure.

The Shrine will remain open until the end of 2017, when her body will be transferred to the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.


Fire at Christ the King Soverign Priest

On Wednesday October 7, 2015 a multiple-alarm fire broke out at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Chicago.  The result was tragic, in that the roof collapsed and damage was extensive.  You can read the newspaper account here.

 However, memers of the Parish are determined to rebuild from the wreckage.  Check out their Facebook page for ways that you can help….they are launching a fund drive and any amount will be greatly appreciated.


Delta Airlines new service Minneapolis to Rome

Delta Airlines has announced new seasonal service from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Rome beginning at the height of the tourist season on May 26th and continue with daily service through August until Labor Day.  

It offers non-stop flights, leaving Minneapolis/St. Paul at 5:25 p.m. and arriving in Rome the following morning at 10:00 a.m. local time. 

Return flights will leave Rome at 11:45 a.m. and land at MSP at 3:45 p.m. local time.  

As of today, they show a price of about $1900 round trip, but we expect that to come down a bit as time draws closer.


Will US citizens need passport to fly within USA?

Beginning in 2016, residents of four states and one territory in the U.S. will not be able to use their driver’s license as ID on domestic flights.  Those states are New YorkLouisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and the territory of American Samoa.  

The reason for this is the states involved do not require proof of citizenship in order to obtain a driver’s license, or their licenses are not sufficiently tamper-proof.

Back in 2005, an act called the Real ID Act was passed, and is being phased in gradually.  The passport requirement will be phased in beginning in 2016 (the exact date has not been announced).  It is expected there will be a grace period of several months. 

Considering how many U.S. citizens do not have a passport, this could possibly lead to some surprises at the airport, not to mention the possibility that the passport offices might be overwhelmed with applicants, leading to long delays in issuing passports.


Hilton Hotels drops pornographic in-room movies

Many priests will tell you that viewing pornography is one of the most heard sins in the confessional….from both men and women.  Often pushed as “harmless”, it is anything but.  Pornography destroys relationships, fosters the objectification of women, contributes to the sex trade and a host of other evils.  Many hotels, unfortunately, offer on-demand pornographic movies in their rooms….billed as “adult entertainment”.  

We want to applaud Hilton Hotels Worldwide for making the decision to discontinue “adult” content movies in their rooms.  Here is confirmation that we received from Hilton:

We are making immediate changes to our global brand standards to eliminate adult video-on-demand entertainment in all our hotels worldwide. While the vast majority of our properties already do not offer this content today, this content will be phased out of all other hotels subject to the terms of their contracts.  We believe in offering our guests a high degree of choice and control during their stays with us, including  Wi-Fi on personal devices.  However, we have listened carefully to our customers and have determined that adult video-on-demand entertainment is not in keeping with our company’s vision and goals moving forward.

With that in mind, we encourage you to choose chains such as Hilton when making your travel plans.  Most businesses will listen to their customers if they vote with their wallets.  

Note that in most cases, pornographic movies were a money-maker for these hotels in the past, but with easy access online, the income from paid in-room movies has tended to decline over the last few years. So not having them available is as much a factor of declining revenues as any great moral concern.    Still, we need to applaud those chains that drop pornographic in-room movies, regardless of the their motivation.  

Omni Hotels, owned by Dallas business man Robert Rowling, was the first chain to drop pornographic in-room movies in 2001, due to his moral objections after he took over the firm.  This was followed by Marriott Hotels in 2011.

Concerned about addiction to pornography?  Check out Integrity Restored, a website for those struggling with pornography.


Costa Cruises drops Priests from cruises

Costa Cruises has suddenly (actually last year, without warning or notice) dis-continued their long-standing policy of having a Catholic priest on all its cruises.  The cruise line is based in Italy, but is also going to be sailing from Fort Lauderdale, beginning December 20, 2015.  

We have inquired as to whether they might have a Catholic priest on the December 20th sailing, since they will be sailing over Christmas.  Their itinerary calls for them to be in Honduras from 8:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. on the 24th and Cayman Islands from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Christmas Day.  We have had no reply, so you will probably not have a priest on board.


Saint Maria Goretti Coming to the U.S.A.

Well, her relics are, anyway.  In an ambitious tour, the glass case enclosing her wax-covered skeleton will be touring the U.S. for  a period of about three weeks, beginning in Newark, New Jersey, on September 25, 2015.  Check out our calendar of events for locations, dates and times.

The Relics of Saint Maria Goretti
The Relics of Saint Maria Goretti

The relic of her will be on display to the public in areas ranging from New England on down to Texas.  

It is a great chance to see this modern-day saint, who was murdered in 1902 at the age of 11, and was canonized on June 24, 1950.  Her murderer, who converted after she appeared to him in prison, later became a Capuchin brother.  

An interesting note:  along the way, the relics will be taken to several prisons, including a stop on death row.

For more about the story of her life click here.


Travel Bargains in Europe

Not so great for those who live there, but the economic situation in Europe promises some of the best exchange rates in over a decade.  With the recent elections in Greece….in which the anti-austerity party has an overwhelming mandate….you can see the writing on the wall.  A country already awash in debt is about to go even farther down the path of disaster. By the way, this might be a good time to visit Greece….just be sure to bring plenty of Euros with you. 

Upcoming elections elsewhere in Europe are also leaning in that direction, so the Euro is unlikely to go anywhere but down compared to currencies such as the U.S. dollar.  

According to the European Central Bank, the exchange rate today is that $1 will buy.90 euros, a rate that has not been seen since 2002. Last year at this time, the exchange rate was such that $1 U.S. bought only .73 euros.  We suspect it may reach parity by fall.

To put that in perspective, if your trip to Europe costs 2,000 euros, you would have spent $2600 last year compared to a little over $2200 this year. And, that is likely to get even better as the year goes on.  

Another plus, although not yet a reality, is that lower fuel prices will eventually lead to a leveling-off of airfare costs.  It is unlikely that fares will come down, since airlines usually buy fuel on the futures market and have costs already locked in, but at least we don’t have to worry about them going up.


Greek Banks closed this week

If you will be traveling to Greece this week, be sure to bring enough cash with you for purchases.  Although credit card transactions may be un-affected, you will not be able to get currency from any bank other than at an ATM machine.  ATM machines are currently limited to 60 Euros per day in withdrawals.  

So, don’t cancel your travel plans….in fact, bargains may be found.  Just be sure to bring enough cash with you to last through the week (at least).