Attending Easter Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square is one of the memorable experiences a group of Gibbons students and educators will have for a lifetime, thanks to their school-sponsored trip to Italy.
The trip, which takes place during Easter break, is a long-standing tradition at Gibbons. This year, as in earlier ones, the group of 27 juniors and seniors accompanied by four Gibbons educators traveled around Italy, visiting Rome, Assisi, Florence, as well as Venice.
The trip is about experiencing Italy's culture and most everything else the country has to offer, from museums to shopping and food. And it is about students expanding their horizons and learning about their faith and about themselves.
"On the trip," said Meredith McElroy '18, "I really got to apply my faith in a deeper way by attending Mass at the Duomo in Florence on Wednesday morning. There is something special about the atmosphere of the churches in Italy... there is so much rich history hidden in the walls of... those churches."
Lauren Pettibone '18 described Mass with the Pope as "surreal." And of traveling abroad she added: " It was my first experience out of the country so I learned a lot. It was amazing to see in person so many places and landmarks that I have seen pictures of online or in textbooks."
The trip also has some of its own traditions, including naming two students and one chaperone "Trip MVPs," for exemplifying Gibbons mission of faith, service, and leadership in church and community. The honor went to students Kyler Zadell '17 and Lauren Pettibone '18 as well as to educator Mike Curatolo, assistant principal – student life.
This year also gave rise to a new tradition: The group started a journal, with every student and educator writing about what they enjoyed most on the trip. "I hope I can come back many years after I graduate, and see our journal filled with the experiences of everyone on the trip," noted McElroy.
For Tim Yelenic, Director of Retreats and one of the adult chaperones, the trip was about "seeing our students live out their faith in all the chapels and churches we visited." He also said that he felt closest to God than ever before when attending Mass with Pope Francis.