Air Strikes in France

Just as travel season begins, we have several strikes announced by the air traffic controllers union in France.  The first has already begun, for Wednesday April 8th and Thursday April 9th.

 Next will come strikes from April 16th through the18th, and then April 29th through May 2nd.  

Although these strikes will mostly affect flights within France, they will undoubtedly have some effect on international flights as well, especially in the case of long-haul flights.  

So we advise you to check with the airline if you are flying to France….whether on Air France or another carrier.  All international carriers are subject to the possibility of flight disruptions.  In many cases, these carriers will waive cancellation penalties, although that is not a guarantee.  If you have travel insurance, you might also want to check with the insurance company.  Not all policies will cover strikes that are announced in advance.


Main website down

Due to some migration problems with our host, our main website at The Catholic Travel Guide  is experiencing outages from time to time.  

I am more and more convinced that most computer programs are the modern equivalent of duct tape and bailing wire.  

Every time they make a change it has un-intended consequences that are rarely for the better.  Kind of like in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” where the angel tells George Bailey that “every life touches so many other lives”


Rail Strike in Germany Nov 6-10, 2014

Although details have not been released, there will be a rail strike that is bound to affect many travelers.  The strike will begin at 2:00 a.m. (02:00) on Thursday, November 6 and end at 4:00 a.m. (04:00) on Monday, November 10.  

You can check the live departures board of Deutsche Bahn here to see train status, although it may not be completely accurate.  We expect many national and regional trains to be either cancelled or delayed.  The same will probably hold for some city trains services as well.


Air France strike continues… sure to check your flight status

As of September 22, the pilot’s strike continues to disrupt service on Air France flights.  

For example, today, flight #639 from Houston, TX to Paris has been cancelled.  Likewise, flights  #65 & #69 from LAX to Paris have also been cancelled.  Cancellations may only be announced the day before, so you need to keep checking.

This does not affect “code share” flights operated by Delta, United and other airlines that have an Air France flight number.


Church housing famous Medjugorje statue will be closed Oct 10-Dec 8, 2014

Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Church in Tihaljana
Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Church in Tihaljana

The Church of Saint Elijah in Tihaljina houses the famous statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that many people identify with Medjugorje.  It is often visited by pilgrims who travel to Medjugorje.

It was this church where Father Jozo, former pastor of Saint James Church in Medjugorje, was pastor for many years and the statue has come to be associated with the apparitions.  

Pilgrims wishing to view the statue may be disappointed this fall, because the Church of Saint Elijah is closed for renovations from October 10 until December 8th.  

The statue is in a nearby school, but we are not sure if it will be accessible to pilgrims.


Pilots’ strike for Air France & Lufthansa

We have bad news....and worse news for air travelers this week:

Pilots for Lufthansa have a one-day strike planned for Tuesday, September 16th. Although Lufthansa plans to operate all of its long-distance flights, there are bound to be schedule changes so check with the airline to be sure of the exact flight time.

Air France pilots will be on strike the entire week of September 15th-20th.  This could be a giant headache, even though many long-distance flights may operate.  

Complicating things is the many “code share” flights nowadays, where you may be booked on, for example, Delta Airlines, but the flight is operated by Air France.  So be sure the check to see what airline is actually operating your flight.


Possible air travel woes?

A few years ago, 2010 to be exact, a volcano in Iceland erupted sending large cloud of volcanic ash drifting over the the North Atlantic and Europe.  It caused havoc among airlines and airports in Europe: several airports were forced to close and thousands of flights were cancelled over a period of about a week, leaving passengers either stranded or unable to depart on their flights.  

Due to a recent earthquake near another volcano, the meteorological service in Iceland has just raised its alert status to the second highest level on its 5-point scale.  This means that it is possible….but not necessarily certain….that there could be a similar eruption, although it is a different volcano this time.

Volcanic ash is something that airplanes must avoid….due to the abrasive nature of the ash, it can cause engine failure.  At this time we simply recommend that you be aware of the situation.  

And, if you have travel insurance (something we always recommend), check your policy to see what coverage you might have.  Some policies have restrictions, and others are “cancel for any reason”.  


Depression, Suicide & Saint Dymphna

The recent suicide of actor Robin Williams made headlines around the world. Perhaps it is because, as a comedian, he always seemed to be “up” and ready to laugh.  Plus, he seemed to have all that the modern world tells us we should want:  Fame, Wealth, Acclaim.  

So it is surprising to those who did not know about his inner conflict, that he suffered from depression and ended up taking his own life.

 But Robin Williams was not alone:  countless people suffer silently from depression.  Although some might wish to call it a character flaw, it is actually a disease that afflicts many regardless of class or wealth.  

As we know, good can often come out of the bad that happens. In this case, due to the enormous amount of publicity  surrounding the suicide of Robin Williams; it will hopefully create more awareness of depression, its signs and treatment.  Oftentimes those with depression feel sadness, shame, and helplessness. As a result they are reluctant to move forward and ask for help. And those around them may not be looking for the signs of depression that could help avert tragedy.

Did you know that Saint Dymphna is a little-known  saint who is invoked in cases of mental health issues?  Her name is  not familiar to many, yet countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession.  Her shrine is in Belgium and there is also a National Shrine of Saint Dymphna in the U.S. in Massillon, Ohio (check this page for more information on Saint Dymphna).


Body of St. Marianne Cope returned to Hawaii

Saint Marianne Cope was known for ministry to the lepers in the leper colony of Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii.  She is the first Franciscan women to be named a saint (Canonized on Oct 21, 2012).  

In her early years she served in upstate New York, but then later came to what was then called the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), where she devoted 35 years to caring for the outcasts at the leper colony, much as Father Damien before her.  

Her body had been kept in the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York before being transferred here.  Although the motherhouse has since closed, a museum dedicated to her is still in Syracuse along with a relic of the saint.  

Her body now rests in the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu.  Plans are for a chapel to be added that will contain her remains as well as those of Saint Damien.