Pilgrimages and Tours
with Father John
Welcome to ORTV's pilgrimages home page. The Office of Radio & Television and WJMJ Radio sponsor pilgrimages and tours primarily to Europe
concentrating on Italy as an additional fundraising method to support their activities. From this page you will be able to access specific information about upcoming tours or
review past tours through pictures or streaming media content.
Current Pilgrimages and Tours
Frequently Asked Passport Questions (this will take you to the U.S. Department of State's website)
Past Pilgrimages and Tours
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This page was last updated on
12 Jul 2021.
Due to the continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19
and when travel restrictions will be relaxed,
we decided not to offer any pilgrimage tour for 2021.
However, please stay tuned as we are in the planning stages for
a Scotland and Ireland pilgrimage for late April 2022 and a
Bella Italia 2022 pilgrimage for late October 2022.
OBERAMMERGAU PASSION PLAY
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Oberammergau
authorities postponed the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play to
2022. It is now scheduled to run May thru
October 2022. With the postponement of the Oberammergau Passion Play, the Office of Radio & Television/WJMJ Radio,
in conjunction with its travel partners, decided not to cancel
the tours but to postpone them to 2022.
We now have confirmed dates for our two Oberammergau Passion
Play tours in 2022 and online booking is now available.
Exploring the Alpine Countries with Oberammergau Passion
Play, hosted by Father John Gatzak, is now scheduled for July 27 to August 8, 2022. Please
note that just a few seats remain for this tour, so if you
have been thinking about it, don't wait! Just click the Sign Up Now! button to book.
Want to go beyond the brochure? Click the
View Now button below to view a pre-recorded
presentation on this Exploring the Alpine countries
tour. Click the Exploring PDF Brochure button for a
full-color brochure that includes the reservation
form and additional tour options.
Alpine Explorer & the Glacier Express Train with Oberammergau
Passion Play, hosted by Father John Gatzak, is now scheduled for September 11-22, 2022. SOLD
OUT - WAITLIST ONLY!
Click the Alpine PDF Brochure button for a
full-color brochure that includes the reservation
form and additional tour options.
here for complete details.
If you were previous booked on one of the tours and cancelled, but now would like to rebook;
please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name and tour date (July or September) that you are requesting to be reinstated on.
We can’t wait to see you in 2022!
Sicily 2019 with Father John, October 31 to November 13, 2019
Father John hosted a group of 26 Office of Radio & Television supporters on this 14 day/12 night pilgrimage tour to the
beautiful island of Sicily. The group visited Palermo; Monreale; Erice; Cefalu; the Marsala wine region; Agrigento... and the Valley of the
Temples; the mosaics at the Villa Armerina; Savoca and the Barone Palantia estate... where scenes from The Godfather were filmed;
Taormina and its Greco/Roman theatre; Mt. Etna, Europe's tallest active volcano; Messina; Catania; and Siracusa and its old
town Ortigia; the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Modica and Ragusa; and much more.
Ireland 2019 with Father John, September 15-28, 2019
Father John hosted a group of 30 Office of Radio & Television
supporters on this 14 day/12 night pilgrimage tour to Ireland. The group visited: Dublin; Trinity College with the Book of Kells and the Long Room; St
Patrick’s Cathedral; the Guinness Storehouse; the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough Monastic Site; Knock Shrine; Connemara; Galway; Kylemore
Abbey; enjoyed a Cliffs of Moher cruise; Kenmare and a Kenmare Bay; Blarney Castle, yes many in the group received the gift of gab; Kinsale; St. Declan's Well; Waterford Crystal;
the JFK Homestead; Tintern Abbey; Hook Head Lighthouse, the Jameson Distillery and so much more.
Bella Italia 2018 with Father John, October 23 to November 5, 2018
Father John Gatzak hosted a group of 42 Office of Radio & Television and WJMJ Radio supporters and together they celebrated the
Office of Radio & Television's 65 years of Bringing Good News to Life® on a 14 day/12 night pilgrimage to Bella Italia.
The group visited Verona, Venice, but avoided the floods; Modena, where they learned about Balsamic vinegar production; Florence and Michelangelo's David, Assisi, Rome
and the Vatican where the group had front row seats as Pope Francis passed in the Pope Mobile; Pompeii; Sorrento, including some very pampered water buffalo
and the Greek and Roman ruins in Paestum. They had a beautiful and sunny day for their drive along breathtaking beauty of the Amalfi coast and visit of Amalfi;
and the tour culminated with a visit to beautiful Isle of Capri, fortunately the rain held out for most of the day, but they didn't quite make it back to the
hydrofoil before getting drenched. Let's just say raincoats and umbrellas were not sufficient.
Rome and Sicily 2017 with Father John, September 17-30, 2017
Father John Gatzak hosted a group of 37 Office of Radio & Television and
WJMJ Radio supporters on a 14 day/12 night pilgrimage tour to the Eternal City... Rome and the beautiful island of Sicily on September
17-30, 2017. The group visited the many historic sites of Rome including the Vatican; and in Sicily toured Palermo, with the
highlight being a visit to the anchovy museum; Monreale, Erice, Cefalu, the Marsala wine region, Agrigento... and the Valley of the
Temples, although the walking tour was rained out; the mosaic at the Villa Armerina, Savoca and the Barone Palantia estate... where
scenes from The Godfather were filmed; Taormina and its Greco/Roman theatre; Mt. Etna, Europe's tallest
active volcano which was snow capped already; Siracusa and its old town Ortigia; and the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Modica, Noto and Ragusa... And not to
mention the wonderful Sicilian people, food, wine and sweet treats.
The Emerald Isle... Ireland, September 17-30, 2016
Father John Gatzak hosted 15 Office of Radio & Television and WJMJ Radio
supporters on a 14 day/12 night pilgrimage to Ireland, September 17-30, 2016. The groups visited: Dublin; Trinity College with Book of Kells and the Long
Room; St Patrick’s Cathedral; Guinness Storehouse; Glendalough Visitor's Center where we learned about St. Keven; Knock Shrine; Galway Cathedral; Kylemore Abbey; Cliffs of Moher; Kenmare
Smokehouse; Blarney Castle, and yes quite a few members of the group came down with the gift of gab after kissing the Blarney Stone; Jameson Experience; Waterford
Crystal; JFK Homestead; Tintern Abbey and so much more. This was a wonderful experience for all and we look forward to offering this pilgrimage in the future.
Jubilee of Mercy Pilgrimage to Italy, March 31 to April 12, 2016
Father John hosted a small group of Office of Radio & Television and WJMJ Radio supporter/listeners on this special
13 day/11 night pilgrimage to Italy in celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy declared by Pope Francis.
The group visited many holy sites from Rome to Bari to Loreto and Assisi including: the Eternal City... Rome and the
Vatican; Pietrelcina (birthplace of Saint "Padre" Pio); San Giovanni Rotondo, where Saint Pio served, received
the stigmata and died; the Trulli of Alberobello; Bari and the Cathedral of St. Nicholas; Loreto and its "Holy House";
Assisi... home of St. Francis and St. Clare; and much more.
Sunny Portugal, September 25 to October 4, 2015
Father John Gatzak hosted a small group of Office of Radio & Television and WJMJ Radio supporters/listeners that were part of an overall larger group
on this 10 day/8 night tour to Sunny Portugal... Estoril Coast, Alentejo & Algarve. The Itinerary included visits to: Cascais, Lisbon, Jeronimo's Monastery,
Sintra, Fatima, Evora, Monsaraz, Algarve, Sagres, Lagos, Faro, Azeitao, 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and much more.
Bella Italia 2015, June 22 to July 5, 2015
36 joined Father John Gatzak on a fantastic 14 day/12 night classic pilgrimage tour of Italy
to celebrate Father John's 40th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood. It was was 40 years ago
on June 29, 1975 that Father John was ordained a priest by Blessed Pope Paul VI in Saint Peter's Square.
The itinerary included visits to: Verona, Venice, Modena, Florence, Siena, Assisi, the Eternal City... Rome
and where the group attended the Papal Mass Celebrated by Pope Francis for the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul in the Basilica of
St. Peter, Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi and the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, Ravello, Paestum and the Isle of
Capri and much more.
Sicily 2014 with Father John, October 6-16, 2014
Father John Gatzak led your fellow Office of Radio & Television supporters and WJMJ listeners on this 11 day/9 night tour to the beautiful island of
Sicily visiting Palermo, Monreale, Cefalu, the Marsala wine region, Agrigento, the Villa Armerina, Savoca, Taormina with its spectacular
view of Mt. Etna, Europe's tallest active volcano, Messina and Reggio Calabria, Siracusa and Noto... a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Habemus Papam Pilgrimage to Italy, August 28 to September 6, 2013
Father John led your fellow television Mass viewers and WJMJ listeners on this 10 day/8
night pilgrimage to Italy in honor of Pope Francis. With visits to Rome and The Vatican, attendance at a General Audience with the new
Holy Father in St. Peter's Square. Itinerary also included visits to Assisi... home of Saint
Francis, for whom the Holy Father chose his name; Florence, Siena and San Gimignano.
Pilgrimage to Rome & Assisi, October 19-28, 2012
Father John Gatzak led 25 Office of Radio & Television supporters and WJMJ listeners on a 10 day/8 night pilgrimage to Rome and
Assisi for the canonizations of 7 blesseds, including two heroic American women... Blessed Marianne Cope and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha on Sunday, October 21, 2012. In
Assisi they visited the Basilicas of St. Francis and St. Clare, and explored this mystic medieval town and the surrounding Umbrian hill towns
including Spello, Spoleto and Bevagna.
Sicily & Malta 2012, September 1-12, 2012
Father John Gatzak led 23 Office of Radio & Television supporters and WJMJ listeners on a 12 day/10 night tour to the
beautiful islands of Sicily and Malta from September 1 - September 12, 2012. In Sicily the group visited: Palermo, Erice,
the salt pans of Trapani, Agrigento, Taormina with its spectacular view of Mt. Etna, Europe's tallest active volcano, Siracusa,
and more. On Malta... many historic sites some dating to prehistoric times were visited.
Bella Italia 2011, September 5-18, 2011
Father John Gatzak and your fellow Office of Radio & Television supporters and WJMJ listeners experienced a fantastic 14 day/12
night classic tour of Italy visiting Verona, Venice, Modena, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Assisi, the Eternal City... Rome,
Pompeii, Sorrento and The Amalfi Coast. Click
to read a client's impression of this tour.
Bella Italia 2010, September 25 to October 7, 2010
A 13 day/11 night classic pilgrimage to Italy with Father John Gatzak that included visits to Verona, Venice, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano, Siena, Assisi,
Pompeii, Sorrento, The Amalfi Coast and the Eternal City... Rome.
Oberammergau Passion Play 2010, July 17- 26, 2010
A 10 Day/8 Night Pilgrimage to Germany & Austria with Father John Gatzak that included the Oberammergau Passion Play performance on Thursday, July 22,
Pilgrimage to Poland with Father John Gatzak, April 24 to May 3, 2008
Father John led this group on a 10 day/8 night tour to his other homeland, Poland. The group visited:
Warsaw, Krakow, Zakopane, the Shrine of Divine Mercy and St. Faustina's tomb in Krakow, the Shrine of
Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Auschwitz Memorial and the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
Pilgrimage to Puglia... the Land of Padre Pio with Father John, October 22-30, 2007
Father John and his fellow pilgrims experienced another wonderful 9 days and 7 nights in Rome and Southeastern Italy. We visited
Rome and the Vatican and participated in Pope Benedicts XVI's weekly General Audience. In Puglia, we saw some of Italy’s most
unspoiled scenery, fascinating artistic and historical sites, and finest beaches. We visited Pietrelcina... the birthplace of Saint “Padre” Pio and
San Giovanni Rotondo and the Basilica dedicated to Padre Pio, where we celebrated Mass at his tomb, and the new Pilgrimage Church of Saint Pio. In Monte
Sant’Angelo we visited the grotto and Shrine of Saint Michael the Archangel. We explored the Castel del Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We visited Trani, Polignano a Mare and Locorotondo. We explored the cone shaped Trulli of Alberobello and experienced agritourism up close,
visiting a winery and an olive oil factory, and culminating with an Italian cooking lesson.
Classic Italy in the Fall with Father John, September 24 to October 7, 2006
Father John Gatzak led another group of pilgrims on this 14 day, 12 night classic tour of Italy. We were blessed by beautiful weather as we visited
Venice for 3 days including the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello, Next we stopped in Modena for an education in traditional Balsamic Vinegar then
onto Florence and Michelangelo's David. From Florence we visited a vineyard and winery in the Chianti region; Siena - home of Saint Catherine -
where we had a special visit with one of the local Contrada. Next up was beautiful Assisi and visits to the Basilicas of Saint Frances and Saint Clare, Patron Saint of
the television Mass. From Assisi we toured to Sorrento and drove the breath taking and winding Amalfi drive to Amalfi. Then it was on to Rome, but
first we stopped in Pompeii and visited this Roman city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. In Rome, we attended a papal general audience with our
Holy Father Benedict XVI, and the diaconate ordination of American seminarians attending the Pontifical North American College at Saint Peter's Basilica, including Michael Carlson of Prospect,
CT, a seminarian from the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Lenten Pilgrimage to Rome & Lourdes with Father John, March 31 to April 10, 2006
This Lenten Pilgrimage to Rome and Lourdes with Father John Gatzak, Executive Director of the Office of Radio & Television of the Archdiocese of
Hartford, began with 4 days in Rome where we participated in the events commemorating the 1st anniversary of the death of Pope John
Paul II, including a candlelit recitation of the Rosary and the Memorial Mass in honor of John Paul II presided by Pope Benedict XVI. Our stay
in Rome concluded with a Papal audience. Next we visited Pisa and its famous Leaning Tower, and yes everyone tried to hold it up...
then on to Avignon, France and the Palace of the Popes. Our Lenten pilgrimage concluded in Lourdes... the sanctuary and
grotto, where the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bernadette. It was truly a very moving and spiritual experience for all as we prayed at the grotto,
participated in the Palm Sunday liturgies and culminated with a candlelit Marian procession.
Sicily & Rome 2005 with Father John: The Anniversary Tour, June 19 to July 1, 2005
Fr. John Gatzak, Executive Director of the Office of Radio & Television, Archdiocese of Hartford conducted another unforgettable pilgrimage, this time,
in celebration of his 30th anniversary of priestly ordination on June 29, 2005. This pilgrimage began with 8 days exploring the ancient ruins on the beautiful Island of Sicily
visiting Taormina, an optional trek to Mt. Etna no eruptions this trip, Siracusa including a boat ride around the harbor... the very waters that St. Paul sailed, Solarino...
where Father John celebrated Mass with his cousins, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Erice, Saline, Monreale and Palermo. We concluded the
pilgrimage with 3 days in the Eternal City, Rome, the highlights being the Papal Mass and Imposition of the Pallium with our new Holy Father, Benedict XVI
in the Basilica of St. Peter; visiting and praying at the tomb of Pope John Paul II and celebrating Father John's Anniversary Mass in the Basilica at the Catacombs of Priscilla.
Italy 2004: The Pallium Tour with Father John, June 24 to July 6, 2004
Father John planned this pilgrimage to celebrate the Archdiocese of Hartford's new Archbishop, Henry J. Mansell, on the occasion of his receiving
the pallium from our Holy Father John Paul II on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 2004. This pilgrimage began with 2 days in Assisi where
we enjoyed the local Festa delle Campanelle, then we spent 4 days in Rome, the highlight being the Pallium Ceremony and a General Audience with the Holy
Father. From Rome we journeyed south for 5 glorious, sun-filled days in and around Sorrento, including visits to Naples, Amalfi, an optional
excursion to Capri, Ravello, Paestum and a Buffalo Mozzarella farm factory.
Italy 2003 with Father John, October 11-24, 2003
This pilgrimage was in celebration of the Office of Radio & Television's Golden Jubilee with an added bonus. It included Lake Como, Florence, Assisi, Rome for the
Beatification of Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta) by our Holy Father John Paul II on October 19, 2003, and San Giovanni Rotondo to visit the Basilica
and birthplace of Saint "Padre" Pio of Pietrelcina.
Crossroads Pilgrimage 2002 to Italy with Father John, October 25 to November 7, 2002
This pilgrimage included the beautiful island of Sicily with visits to Palermo, Agrigento, Siracusa, and Taormina with its view of the erupting Mt. Etna, and
Rome and a general audience with our Holy Father John Paul II.
Pilgrimage to Italy, October 27 to November 6, 2001
This pilgrimage was almost another casualty of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. However, from an initial group size of 35,
Father John led 20 brave and hearty pilgrims, including a first-time flyer, to Italy where they prayed and remembered the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks
in the Eternal City of Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, the Isle of Capri, Assisi, Venice and Milan.
Great Jubilee Year 2000 Pilgrimage to Rome, June 26
to July 3, 2000
In honor of the Great Jubilee Year 2000 and Father John's
25th Priestly Ordination Anniversary, he led his first, but
not his last, pilgrimage group to Rome, Siena, Florence and
Assisi. It included a Papal General Audience with Pope
(now Saint) John Paul II and a special Mass in Saint Peter's
Square on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29th
(Father John's anniversary) celebrated by the Holy Father.
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