Exploring the Land of Saints and Scholars
A Franciscan Pilgrimage to Ireland


Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Exploring the Land of Saints and Scholars
A Franciscan Pilgrimage to Ireland
July 19 – 28, 2024

Embark on a spiritual journey from July 19 to July 28, 2024. Departing from Chicago, this 10-day pilgrimage will immerse you in the rich history and spirituality of Ireland, with a special focus on exploring Franciscan landmarks and delving into its profound history in the country. Highlights include panoramic tours of Dublin’s iconic landmarks, the sacred Cliffs of Moher, the historic Galway City, visits to age-old Franciscan sites, a journey to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, where the Blessed Mother appeared in 1879, and the poignant Famine Museum. Throughout our travels, we’ll celebrate Mass in significant locations, savor traditional meals, and enjoy authentic Irish entertainment. Our pilgrimage culminates in Dublin, from where we will depart back to the USA. Experience Ireland’s deep Catholic and Franciscan roots and witness its breathtaking landscapes on this unforgettable pilgrimage.

Package Price from the Gateway City of Chicago, O’Hare (ORD):

A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot.
Full Package payment must be made in full 90 days before we leave (April 10th, 2024)

Complete Package with flight: $4,899 ($5,071 when you pay online – processing fees applied)

Land Only Package (flight not included): $3,999 ($4,139 when you pay online – processing fees applied)

Package Price Inclusions:

Airfare: Roundtrip on non-refundable, economy class group airline ticket from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Airport. We also offer a “Land Only Package” for those wishing to make their own flight reservations.

Accommodations: First class hotel in Dublin at beginning of tour; superior tourist class hotels in Galway and for the last night in Dublin or best available accommodations, all with private bathroom facilities. Porterage of one suitcase per person at hotels only.  Rooms are double occupancy, so they will be shared with one other guest. We do have a limited number of private rooms that are available on a first come, first served, basis at an additional cost.

Meals: Per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner).

Transportation & Sightseeing: By private motor coach per the itinerary with an English-speaking pilgrimage manager during the land portion of the program; entrance fees and local guides as shown in the itinerary.

Tips to hotels, restaurants, guides, and drivers: These are included in the price. CTC will advise the group leaders of the amount to distribute to hotels, restaurants, drivers, and guides.

Masses: Masses will be available most days.

Package Price Exclusions:

Excess baggage charges.

Beverages with meals; meals not mentioned.

Passport or visa fees.

Items of personal nature (laundry, phone calls, etc.) or any items not explicitly stated as included.

Tours mentioned as ‘optional’ in the itinerary.

Optional Travel Insurance: Each passenger is strongly encouraged to purchase their own travel protection insurance; We are happy to provide a recommendation, but passengers are free to purchase insurance from any company they choose.

Cost of any medical test required by the airline, cruise company, other supplier(s), and/or the country(s) in your program.


We will keep this to a small group (including our guides), ensuring a more intimate and personal experience. Bring a favorite book and your walking shoes. There will be time for reading, relaxing, and contemplation. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis and only have a limited number of spots available. You can secure your place with a  $500 non-refundable deposit. If you have questions, call Becki Romans in the Mission Advancement Office at 812-923-5250 or email by clicking here.

Your Pilgrimage Guides

Friar Steve McMichael, OFM Conv.

Originally from Minnetonka, Minnesota where friar Steve graduated from high school in 1973. He was familiar in his youth with the friars at the seminary in Chaska and the retreat house in Prior Lake. He professed solemn vows in 1981 and was ordained in 2002. He earned his BA in Philosophy and Arts in 1981, a MA in Franciscan Studies in 1983, and a bachelor degree in theology from the Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure (the Seraphicum) in Rome in 1988, and his License and Doctorate in Theology from the Gregorian University (S.J.) in 1992.

Friar Steve has served in the world of university education from 1992 to 2000 at the University of Saint Louis and other education centers in Saint Louis. From 2000 to the present, he has served as an associate professor of theology at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, MN. He served as acting director of the Engaging Islam program from 2018 to 2020 at Saint Thomas and has been actively engaged in the Christian-Muslim dialogue in the Twin Cities since 2000.

In the area of scholarship, friar Steve is currently researching and writing on the topic of the resurrection of Jesus in late medieval Franciscan theology, spirituality, and preaching. He recently published a book entitled The Glory of Paradise: Risen Life in the Easter Octave Sermons of Bernardino da Siena (Tau Press, 2016). He is in the process of publishing a book on Mary Magdalene as the main biblical resurrection witness to Jesus’ resurrection. He continues to work on the medieval Easter sermons, literature, and art of medieval Franciscan tradition regarding the resurrection.

Other fun facts about friar Steve: he spends many weekends serving local parishes in the Minneapolis area. He enjoys going to Italy, especially with adult pilgrims and students. He still plays “old man” hockey once a week to keep in shape to do Franciscan pilgrimage programs. He loves immensely the beauty of nature in Minnesota and especially at the Franciscan Retreat and Spirituality Center where he feeds the birds, deer, and squirrels of the area.

Friar Bob Roddy, OFM Conv.

Friar Bob Roddy, OFM Conv., has been a Conventual Franciscan for over 40 years. A native of Nebraska, friar Bob takes great pride in his Irish heritage (his father’s family were from West Meath County, while his mother’s people were from Waterford County.)

Friar Bob currently serves as Associate Director of Donor Outreach for the Mission Advancement Office of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation. He also lends his writing skills in outreach to donors via social media, e-blasts, and newsletters. Friar Bob also serves as the Guardian of the Friary at Mt. St. Francis, Indiana.

Friar Bob’s journey with the Conventual Franciscans began when he was a teaching assistant in the English Department at Saint Louis University, where he had a friar as a student. “He almost had to pick his eyeballs off the floor, when I asked him if I could visit his community,” friar bob recounts. “I knew that this was the community for me after that first evening with the friars in St. Louis.”

Most of friar Bob’s ministry has been in preached retreats and retreat administration. He has the distinction of having served at all three of the Retreat Centers (Mt. St. Francis Center for Spirituality [MSFCS], Mt. St. Francis, IN; Holy Cross Retreat, Mesilla Park, NM and Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center, Prior Lake, MN. In all three locations he has been known for his hospitality as well as his thoughtful preaching. A natural storyteller, friar Bob regales retreatants, co-workers and guests with his vivid stories about life in Franciscan community.

Friar Bob has always been interested in experiencing other countries and cultures. In 2015 he fulfilled a a dream of walking a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain with his good friend and colleague, Kristen Joseph. “Even though Kris and I only walked the last 100 kilometers of the Camino, we could feel the centuries of spiritual energy from pilgrims past and present. It was the experience of a lifetime,” friar Bob recounted.

“While I love to travel, going on a pilgrimage is especially meaningful for me because of the opportunities to form community and ultimately, communion with my fellow pilgrims. I am especially looking forward to making this pilgrimage to the land of my ancestors and to experience the rich spirituality of Ireland,” he said, “I hope that our friends can join us.”

We expect this pilgrimage to fill fast. Reserve your spot today!


Day 1 – Friday, July 19, 2024 – Depart in the PM

We depart on a non-stop flight from Chicago to Dublin, with complimentary meals and beverages served on board.

Day 2 – Saturday, July 20, 2024  – Arrive Dublin / Panoramic City Tour

We arrive in Dublin in the late morning time and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre guide, who will accompany us throughout our pilgrimage. Boarding our motor coach, we travel to downtown Dublin for some time to enjoy a pub lunch on our own.

Since our rooms at our hotel are available for check-in only after 3:00 p.m., we use our time wisely to enjoy a panoramic tour of the city, including the Georgian Dublin and Leinster House (Parliament). We drive by St. Patrick Cathedral (Church of Ireland), dating from 450 AD; Christchurch Cathedral (founded by King Sitric of the Dublin Norsemen in 1038 and rebuilt in 1169 by the Normans) and Kilmainham Goal, the infamous prison built in 1792. We will see Oscar Wilde’s House with its colorful doors, Grafton Street with its high-end stores, and Stephen’s Green. We check in to our hotel once rooms are available, then gather for dinner. Dinner is served at our hotel. (D)

Day 3 Sunday, July  21, 2024 – Dublin City tour

After breakfast, we begin our day with the celebration of the Sunday liturgy at Visitation Franciscan Parish in Dublin.  Following Mass, we make our way to Trinity College where we view the Book of Kells.  Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I and is the oldest university in Ireland.  The Book of Kells is one of the finest and most famous, and also one of the latest, of a group of manuscripts in what is known as the Insular style, produced from the late 6th through the early 9th centuries.

Later this afternoon, following some time for lunch on our own, we enjoy a fun visit of the Jameson Distillery.  Once the centre of distilling in Dublin, it was renovated in 1998 and converted into a museum.  The visit culminates in the Jameson bar with an opportunity for all to taste the signature Jameson drink. We return to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

Day 4 – Monday, July 22, 2024  – Dublin:  Excursion to Kilkenny

After breakfast, we travel to the lovely town of Kilkenny. The city derives its name from St. Canice, who established a monastery here in the 6th century.  Canice was an Irish abbot, monastic founder, priest, and missionary during the early medieval period. Cainnech (Canice) is one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland, and he preached Christianity across Ireland and in Scotland.  We begin our visit at Kilkenny Castle, which has been an important historic site since the Anglo-Norman Strongbow built it in the 12th century. The castle was remodeled in Victorian times, and its rooms now reflect its 1830s beauty.

We will celebrate Mass at St. Canice Church. We have some time for lunch on our own and for shopping at the renowned Kilkenny Design Center.  We return to our hotel in Dublin for dinner and the evening.  (B, D)

Day 5 – Tuesday, July 23, 2024 – Dublin/ Clonmacnoise/ Galway

After breakfast and check-out, we board our motor coach for Galway.  We make a stop at the monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise, one of Ireland’s most celebrated holy places. Here we see the 12th century round tower, ancient High Crosses, as well as the many churches and temples at this hollowed site.   Mass will be celebrated at a local church.  After some time for lunch on our own, we continue on to our hotel in Galway for check-in, followed by dinner and the evening.  (B, D)

Day 6 –  Wednesday, July 24, 2024 – Galway: Visit of the City

Today, after breakfast, we visit the Galway City Museum. The Museum displays materials relating to the history of Galway City.  Located near an earlier settlement, Galway grew around a fortification built in 1124.  During the Middle Ages, Galway was ruled by fourteen merchant tribes.   These were the “Tribes of Galway”. The city thrived on international trade, and in the Middle Ages, it was the principal Irish port for trade with Spain and France.  After our museum visit, we celebrate Mass at St. Nicholas Cathedral.   We will have time for lunch on our own and time to stroll this scenic city. Dinner tonight is at our hotel.  (B, D)

Day 7 –  Thursday, July 25, 2024 – Galway: Excursion to the cliffs of Moher, Ennis & the Franciscan Friary, Plus Dunguaire Castle

This morning, after breakfast, we travel to the Cliffs of Moher, situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren region, these sheer cliffs drop 600 feet to the water below, one of the most impressive stretches of shoreline on the west coast of Ireland. After lunch (included) at a local pub, we continue on to Ennis to view the ruins of the Franciscan Friary established in the middle of the 13th century.  Following the suppression of the monasteries in the 16th century, the friary continued to function for a while despite the loss of its lands. In the early 17th century, the buildings were handed over to the Church of Ireland as a place of worship. The friary was used as such until the late 19th century.  After falling into ruins, the friary was formally returned to the Franciscan Order in 1969.  Today it is a National Monument of Ireland.  We will celebrate Mass at the New Friary nearby.

On our way back to Galway city, we stop to enjoy a medieval banquet and entertainment at Dunguaire CastleMirroring the tradition of medieval times, guests are welcomed with a goblet of Mead, a traditional honey wine, in an inner chamber by the butler and ladies of the castle. After a short history of the castle and musical introduction, guests climb the stairs to the Banquet Hall. A delicious four-course dinner with wine is followed by an entertaining program of music, song and dance. We return to our hotel full and happy.   (B, L, D)

Day 8 – Friday, July 26, 2024 – Galway: Excursion to Ross Errilly & Knock

After breakfast, we travel first to Hedford for a visit of Ross Errilly Friary.   It is a National Monument of Ireland and among the best-preserved medieval monastic sites in the country. It was founded at some point between the mid-fourteenth and late fifteenth centuries.  Like many other abandoned Christian sites in Ireland, Ross Errilly has continued to be used as a burial ground by area residents. In addition to tombs that date from the friary’s active period, many graves dating from the 18th through 20th centuries can be found inside the church walls. In some cases, tombstones comprise the floors of walkways and crawlspaces.

After our visit, we continue on to Knock Shrine, with lunch on our own, en route.  Knock is visited each year by more than 1.5 million pilgrims. Upon arriving here as a pilgrim in the autumn of 1979, Pope John Paul II declared: “Now I am at the goal of my pilgrimage to Ireland!” We enjoy a guided tour of the Shrine’s grounds to learn the story of the apparitions here. We celebrate Mass at the Shrine before returning to our hotel in Galway for dinner and the evening.   (B, D)

Day 9 – Saturday, July 27, 2024  – Galway / Famine Museum/ Athlone/ Dublin

After breakfast and checkout, we travel first to Strokestown House to visit the Famine Museum.   Known as “The Great Hunger” or “The Irish Potato Famine,” it lasted from 1845 to 1852, during which time more than 2 million died or left the country.  A destructive plant disease caused the greatest loss of life in 100 years.

After our visit, we continue on to Athlone for a viewing of the outside of Athlone Castle, dating from 1210.  We enjoy a panoramic tour of the area and an included lunch at a local restaurant, then continue on to our hotel in Dublin for check-in.  We will join a local parish for the Vigil Mass, then proceed to a local restaurant for an uplifting Irish Cabaret Farewell dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 10 – Sunday, July 28th, 2024 – Return to the USA

After breakfast and checkout, our motor coach will transfer us to the Dublin Airport for our return flight to the USA. Note: we are able to go through U.S. Customs in Dublin.  (B)


While no changes are anticipated, there may be unforeseen occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary, either due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons.  All Masses are subject to local church schedules and substitution with alternate Mass sites if churches mentioned are not available.