April 4, 2011
Texline—The prayers, fundraising and planning paid off for the youth of St. Mary’s Church, as 12 kids and 14 adults, including pastor Father Scott L. Raef, traveled to Rome March 13-21 for Spring Break.
“The planning for this trip began after our kids talked about going to World Youth Day in Madrid,” said parishioner Alicia Bezner, who helped coordinate the trip. “They started looking into it and decided if they were going to go that far they should just go to Rome and explore their Catholic history.
“Going over Spring Break gave them enough time to get their money together. They worked for other people and had a football ticket raffle to go to a Dallas Cowboys game to raise the funds. Valerie Diller was instrumental in not only preparing the kids for their Rome experience, but also working diligently with EF Tours. The plans for this excursion took months of long phone calls and emails.”
Bezner said another advantage of traveling to Rome: having your own personal tour guide. Seminarian Carmelo Morales, who is studying at the Angelicum, spent last summer at the Texline parish and at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Dalhart.
“Our youth had a wonderful summer with Carmelo,” she said. “He taught their catechism class and was involved in their volunteer work through the summer.”
The group from St. Mary’s started the journey in Assisi where they were able to visit the tombs of St. Francis and St. Claire’s. Then it was off to Florence to visit the Duomo and numerous other churches, basilicas and museums.
“Rome is where we finished our amazing trip,” said Bezner. “The kids were able through Carmelo to go on the Scavi tour and see the bones of St. Peter. Carmelo was also able to go with us to St. Peter’s and explain a lot of the art and placement of things. Everything is where it is for a reason.
“We were also able to take part in Mass at Sant’Agostino and it was an amazing experience to hear Father Scott celebrate Mass in Rome. The kids and adults were also able to attend the Papal blessing and the kids really enjoyed getting to see Pope Benedict XVI and hear him proclaim the blessing in numerous languages.
“I would like to offer a special thanks from our youth to Valerie, Carmelo, Father Scott, the people of Texline, Dalhart, Clayton and anyone else who made donations to make this trip possible.”
The West Texas Catholic asked a number of the youth for their thoughts about their Spring Break experience:
“What amazed me the most was the shear size of everything! It is amazing to think that someone designed a huge basilica or church that he would never be able to see finished. For example, the Duomo in Florence took 140 years to build. To me it is proof that there is something greater when these men have the faith to build something so beautiful and time consuming.”
“I really liked the Vatican. Seeing Pope Benedict and the bones of St. Peter really inspired my faith. It amazed me how long it took to decorate the churches there.”
“I loved the Papal Blessing! It was amazing how many people from all over the world show up for it, and also the number of languages he speaks is incredible. It was truly a dream come true for me to get to see the Pope. He is an inspiring leader of faith and to get to witness him in action was truly awesome.”
“I was truly amazed by the immense beauty, intricate work and just all the time that was put into building all the beautiful churches, basilicas and tombs that we saw!
“I am also truly amazed by all the people that share our faith! I knew it was a lot, but I really had no idea that ‘our small cult’ as Father Scott says, is just so jam packed full of people that share such an amazing faith!”
Harley Elizabeth Bezner:
“I loved how much work and dedication they put into every church that they built. My favorite part was going to the Vatican and seeing how many people know about our faith or are a part of it. It was very amazing seeing St. Peter’s bones. I didn’t realize how much that would have changed the way I looked at Christianity.”
Kyra Nichole Miller:
“I loved the Vatican and seeing St. Peter’s bones. Being blessed by the Pope and seeing all the people that love our faith was amazing. The artwork and statues were wonderful. It was a great experience and made me even more proud to be Catholic.”
I didn’t really have a favorite part because overall everything was amazing...I loved the artwork and detail that was put into everything. Seeing the Pope and hearing him speak diffrent languages meant a lot to me. The amount of people we saw who are Catholics really touched me I never believed that there was so many people who shared the same faith as us. The amount of time, work, and effort to raise the money was worth it. If I could have a chance to go back to Italy and explore our faith further I would take it. This trip was absoulutley amazing and mesmorizing.