Most of my life, I dreamed of going to Rome. You can imagine how excited I was in April 2017, when after Mass one weekend, I found a flyer from Magnificat Travel advertising a pilgrimage to Rome in April 2018. I prayed about this for several weeks, as I thought I was too old to be able to do this—I was coming up on my 80th birthday. I think the Holy Spirit decided that was not the case, so I went to Magnificat Travel and paid for the trip.

Fr. Norbert Maduzia of St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in Spring, Texas, greeted Pope Francis at the Vatican on Feb. 6, 2018, while on pilgrimage.

Originally our pilgrimage to Italy was scheduled for September 2017, the month of our 50th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding at St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church forced us to postpone the trip to January 2018. When we arrived in Rome, the weather was cold, rainy and windy, but it did not faze any of us. We were determined to move on with our pilgrimage, for God’s plan through the Holy Spirit was for it to be a trip never to be forgotten.

Sunday brought us to St. Peter’s Basilica. The magnificence of St. Peter’s is a powerful, palpable thing. Here, 25 years previous, on Trinity Sunday, our pastor was ordained. When Father Tom joined us to celebrate Mass, he was radiant. We could feel his joy and were witness to his serenity. Mass was said in the Chapel of St. Sebastian at the tomb of St. John Paul II, who had ordained Father Tom. We all felt especially blessed. A year of hoping, planning, anticipating had come to fruition.