Year of Mercy Pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi

Last day to sign up is Monday July 13!!!

We are happy to announce an exciting trip to Rome and Assisi accompanied by Fr. Chris Walsh September 26-October 6, 2016. Trip will include entrance to the 4 Holy Doors opened by Pope Francis for the Year of Mercy. Our hotel in Rome is conveniently located for only a short walk to the Vatican for the Papal Audience. We will be in Assisi for the Feast of St. Francis, October 4 to experience the local folk parade in his honor. See brochure for itinerary.

To reserve your spot, please fill out the registration form and send to Golden Eagle Travel with a copy of your passport facepage. Please feel free to call with any questions at 763-420-1074.

Brochure         Registration Form

"Come, Follow Me" Holy Land Pilgrimage

May 9-19, 2016 "Come Follow Me" Holy Land Pilgrimage

$3800 from New York

Come and join us and Fr. Mike Schmitz for this one-of-a-kind pilgrimage that focuses on vocations. If you or someone you know has been talking about discerning what God wants them to do with their future, this may be the perfect opportunity to spend a week in the same locations where Jesus called and commissioned his disciples, hear inspiring teaching by Fr. Mike and Jeff, pray at holy sites, and most importantly, take time to listen to the voice of God.

Prayerfully consider coming along or sponsoring someone who may be in that place of discernment. If you are hoping to be sponsored, please contact Emily to give us your name and information.

Special guest singer Aly Aleigha will accompany the pilgrimage and serve as cantor for the masses.

Suggestions for raising funds to go:

1) Send a letter to friends, family, fellow parishioners about your desire to go.  Sample letter idea

2) Start a crowd funding campaign (source idea)

3) Contact your local vocations director to see if they have any donors. (It never hurts to ask!)

Call Emily with any questions about this pilgrimage: 763-420-1074.

 Registration Form      Itinerary     Brochure

Fr. Mike Speaks About Discerning

 Fr. Mike Talks About Vocation


Special Music by Aly Aleigha! She will be the cantor for the pilgrimage.

Testimonial by Novice Timothy Herrmann

Spending time in the Holy Land in January 2014 greatly influenced my religious vocation. At that time, I was in the midst of applying to join Saint Meinrad Archabbey, a Benedictine monastery in southern Indiana. I was excited to embark on this journey of religious life, but I was understandably apprehensive. What overcame me in the Holy Land was a reassurance and peace in praying for others. Being able to spend time where Jesus and his disciples prayed, ate, learned, struggled and ministered helped me connect tangibly to a 2000 year tradition of life, faith, prayer, work and worship that spread throughout the world. It made the stories I have heard countless times in the Bible come to life and continue to come to life. That peace I found in offering prayer for the intentions of family, friends and the world while in the Holy Land strengthened my desire to join the monks of Saint Meinrad in their prayer and work. When I find myself struggling with narrow-mindedness, pride or selfishness, God gently reminds me of my time in the Holy Land and the peace he gives when we pray with the world and for the world. Novice Timothy Herrmann, O.S.B., Saint Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, IN


Almost Ready to Post Pricing!

We will soon have the final itinerary and pricing for this absolutely amazing, one of a kind pilgrimage to the Holy Land to not only follow the footsteps of Jesus, Mary and the Apostles, but to take time to discern the call of God on your life. Priesthood? Religious life? Marriage? Consecrated single? A special outreach? If you think God is calling you -- come with us to discern. Fr. Mike Schmitz and Jeff Cavins will teach you on site. You will have time for prayer and discernment.

This is a great opportunity to sponsor someone you think may have a vocation. Call with any questions:


January 2016 Holy Land Pilgrimage

There are still spots available for the January 5-18, 2016 Holy Land Pilgrimage with optional post-tour to Jordan! 

To register for the pilgrimage you will need to download a registration form below and be sure to fill it out all 3 pages completely and sign it. Mail it with the deposit to the address on the form along with a photo copy of the face page of your passport. A passport must not expire before 6 months after the last date of travel. (In this case, it can't expire before August of 2016.) If you need to get a new passport, send in registration anyway and note that passport is pending.

(For printable brochure with itinerary click here)

Registration Forms:

If you want to go on the Holy Land Pilgrimage AND Jordan extension, Jan 5-21, use this form:

Jordan Extention & Holy Land Registration Form

Jordan Extention Itinerary

For Holy Land Pilgrimage, January 5-18, Click departure city below for corresponding registration form:

Minneapolis $4400

Houston $4400

Newark, Philadelphia, New York $4100

Denver $4500

Dayton, OH $4500

Chicago $4300

Any other city 


Meet the staff for 2016!

Spiritual Director, Fr. Randal Kasel. He is currently serving at two parishes, St. Peter and St. Michael in Zumbrota and Pine Island, Minnesota near Rochester. He is an experienced pilgrimage leader, full of energy and joy. He accompanied us to Israel last January and we were inspired by his enthusiasm for the faith, so when he told us he was open Jan '16 to travel with us again, we jumped at the chance to have him be spiritual director. 






Julia Waletzko, singer and cantor. Julia is an angelic singer who currently teaches at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, MN. She accompanied our pilgrimage in 2011 and we are delighted she can travel with us again. When we get to the Holy Land, she'll tell you the story about her losing her voice and what God has done in her heart.

Staff priests:

Fr. Vincent Maroun is a Marionite priest from South Carolina who traveled with us last January. He has a compelling preaching style and the heart of a father. The Marionite Rite allows priests to marry, so his wife Andrea will be joining us too!

Fr. James ChaneyFr. James Chaney is the NDSU Newman Center Director for the Diocese of Fargo. He is an advocate for FOCUS Missionaries and flies airplanes. (He won't be piloting this trip, however!)






Special guest, Chris Stefanick of Real Life Catholic, will join us as well for his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Chris has served as a youth minister for fourteen years at a parish in the East Los Angeles area. He has also worked as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Lacrosse and the Archdiocese of Denver. He is featured in two of Ascension Press' newest offerings for young people, Chosen and Altaration. He is married with 6 children. He plans to bring his 2 oldest sons as well.Jean McGinty, liturgy assistant, will coordinate lectors and other volunteers on the pilgrimage. Jean has traveled with us twice before and does a fantastic job. 

Pilgrimage Highlights:            

  • Daily mass at holy sites like Church of the Holy Sepulchre, St. Peter's in Capernaum & Annunciation in Nazareth
  • Praying a decade of the rosary on locations where the mysteries happened
  • Individual audio transmitters so you can hear it all
  • On site teaching by Jeff Cavins on topics like the Papacy, the Mystery of Suffering, and Discipleship
  • At least one priest per motor coach
  • Supporting Christians shops in Bethlehem
  • Free study manual and pilgrims guide to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
  • Our pilgrimages are inspirational and educational as well as opportunities for spiritual growth, making new friends and just having fun

Travel arrangements made by Golden Eagle Travel and Tours.

Bonnie Lane or Tricia Stolz at 952-474-0903,


Here's a look at upcoming pilgrimages

For those interested in future pilgrimage dates, this is what we are planning:

(click the names of the pilgrimages to go to more information)

Saint JP2 Pilgrimage to Poland  September 9-19, 2019  -  Space Available

Annual Pilgrimage to the Holy Land -- January 6-20, 2020 Registration is open

Annual Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with optional Jordan extension — January 21-February 3 (extension returns February 7) Registration is open

Young Adult Pilgrimage to the Holy Land -- June 1-12, 2020
(Co-hosts Fr. Mike Schmitz and Franciscan University) Pre-registration now open

If you are interested in being notified about any future trips, please contact us! This helps us reserve seats from various departure cities! Call 763-420-1074 or email

Tour Day Eleven, Jan 20

Elah Valley, Emmaus, Jaffa ~  After we checked out of the hotel, we began our last day in Israel. We traveled through Old Testament lands to the Elah Valley where David slew Goliath (Samuel 17.) Mass was at a site associated with ancient Emmaus, the Roman city of Emmaus Nicopolis, where we remember how Jesus’ revealed Himself to those who walked on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35.) Our last visit was to the ancient port of Jaffa (Joppa.) This is the city of Jonah’s defection (Jonah 1:3) & Peter’s vision (Acts 10:5-9) at the home of Simon the Tanner- one of the oldest cities in the world. It is a city of partings & departure & is where we said good-bye to our guides & drivers before heading to the airport.



Tour Day Ten, Jan 19

Dead Sea, Masada, En Gedi, Qasar El Yehud

Today we returned to the area of the Dead Sea, stopping at En Gedi where Jeff taught about that location where David hid from Saul (1 Samuel 26,). Next we headed to Masada, the wilderness palace fortress built by Herod the Great. The final suicidal stand of the Jews against the Romans took place here in 73 AD.  We took the gondola to the top where we toured this amazing site & heard the even more incredible story.  After a lunch stop we continued north for mass at Qasar El Yehud, renewing our baptismal vows at the wilderness part of the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus (Mark 1:9-11.)  We ended the afternoon at a Dead Sea beach to take a float in this unique body of water. The mineral rich waters are so buoyant that it seems more like bobbing than floating! Tonight was our farewell dinner and each bus presented a song or skit to prove they were the best bus. This year, blue bus wins!



Tour Day Eight, Jan 17

Via Dolorosa, Upper Room, Israel Museum, Ein Kerem ~ Today we shared onw of the most meaningful experience of the pilgrimage.  We entered the Old City through the Lion’s or St. Stephen’s Gate to walk through the 14 stations of the Via Dolorosa, Christ’s route to the Cross, meditating at each & ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where we had mass. Next we visited the Upper Room on Mt Zion and drove to the Israel Museum to see a model of 1st Century Jerusalem and also the Scroll of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed. Later we departed Jerusalem for nearby Ein Kerem, where John the Baptist was born, to visit the Church of the Visitation (Luke 1:46-55.)  This lovely hilltop church displays the Magnificat in many languages of the world.


Tour Day Seven, Jan 16

St Anne’s Basilica & the Pools of Bethesda, Southern Steps of Temple Mount, Mt Zion, Caiaphas’ house  ~  This morning we started out at the Church of St. Anne where the acoustics make songs echo beautifully. From there we made our way to the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount and Jeff gave a teaching about the Jesus writing in the dust. We visited the Western Wall and walked through parts of the Old City of Jerusalem before exiting through the Dung Gate to Mt Zion for Mass at the church that recalls Peter’s denial on the night Jesus was betrayed, St. Peter in Gallicantu (Matthew 26:69-75.) The church is built over the High Priest Caiaphas’ home (Matthew 26:57,) where Jesus was held that same night. 


Tour Day Six, Jan 15

Mount of Olives, Church of the Ascension, Dominus Flevit Chapel, Gethsemane, Kidron Valley, Mt Zion, Upper Room, Israel Museum, Shrine of the Book, Model of 1st Century Jerusalem ~  A group of early birds walked to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre before breakfast. Then all together we viewed Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives, and then walked down along the Palm Sunday way, stopping at the Dominus Flevit Chapel, a name referencing “Jesus Wept” (John 11:35). At the base of the Mount we entered the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36) & the Church of the Agony (also known as the Church of All Nations), where we attended mass at the rock where Jesus prayed before He was taken. Next we visited the excavations of the City of David near the Temple Mount and saw David's Palace and walked through a Canaanite Tunnel and out to see the Pool of Siloam. Tonight Emily taught again on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, including the history & layout of this important structure. The remaining 2 coaches had the opportunity to tour the Kotel or Rabbinical Tunnels. 

Tour Day Five, Jan 14

Bethlehem, Shepherds' Fields, New Jerusalem ~  We entered the West Bank to visit Bethlehem & meet our local Christian guides. Mass was held at the Church of St Catherine’s beside the Church of the Nativity. After touring the church we did some shopping at a Christian owned olive wood shop. After lunch we walked to the Shepherds' Fields. Excavations in the area of the fields have revealed churches & evidence of 1st century occupation of caves in the Shepherd's Village. Jeff taught about Mary, Mother of God. After dinner, two coaches went to visit the Kotel or Rabbinical Tunnels. In the tunnels, we walked on the street level from the 1st century, a true time capsule. At the same time, the other 2 coaches were invited to hear Emily's orientation to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, including the history & layout of this important structure.






Tour Day Four, Jan 13

Mt Tabor, Bet Shean, Judean Wilderness, Qumran, Inn of the Good Samaritan, Jerusalem ~  After an early start, we ascended Mt Tabor for mass in the lovely Basilica of the Transfiguration, the site of Christ’s Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36.). Then we departed the Galilee through the Jordan Valley. We toured Bet She’an, a Roman city that has been restored enough to see the excavations of the streets & shops as they originally were.  It lies beside the Old Testament tel (Joshua 17; Judges 1; I Samuel 31:10-12) from the days when Saul was king. We stopped at Qumran, to see where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, before we turn west toward Jerusalem. Our first view of the Golden City was from a promenade where we will shared the traditional Jewish Shechuyanu blessing with bread and wine and the view of a beautiful sunset.


Tour Day Three, Jan 12

Capernaum, Tabgha, Primacy of Peter, Mt of the Beatitudes, Caesarea Philippi, Tel Dan, Mt Hermon, Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee ~   We started the morning with a visit to Church of St. Peter’s Primacy along the sea shore and prayed a blessing over our priests and deacons. Then we toured Capernaum and also had mass at the Church of St. Peter built over his house and then had a time for praying for the sick. After a talk by Jeff in the ancient synagogue, we drove north to Caesarea Philippi, where Peter first identified Jesus as the Messiah & Jesus announced Peter's role in the church (Matthew 16:17-19.) We took a quick look at the ancient gates of the city at Tel Dan and returned to the Sea of Galilee to the Mt of Beatitudes, the site of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. After dinner we had the opportunity for confessions with our priests.  



Tour Day Two, Jan 11

Nazareth, Cana, Kfar Kedem, Ancient Boat ~  Today we toured the area west of the Sea of Galilee.  We began at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth & the Grotto of the Annunciation, thought to be Mary’s girlhood home, before mass in the upper level church. We visited Joseph’s workshop beneath St Joseph’s Church. Not too far away, we visited Cana, where Jesus performed His first recorded miracle at the wedding feast (John 2:1-11,) turning water into wine.  Couples renewed wedding vows in the church. AtKfar Kedem we experience life firsthand in the time of Jesus. We ended the day with a sunset cruise on the Sea of Galilee. It was quite windy and took a while to cross it, but it reminded us of the storm that Jesus calmed in Matthew 8:23-27.

Tour Day One, Jan 10

Caesarea, Mount Carmel, Megiddo, Sea of Galilee ~ This morning we experienced our first Israeli buffet breakfast. It is a feast of cheeses, yogurts, fish, eggs, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, cereals, wonderful breads & unique Israeli dishes. We may find that lunch is not much of a need after an Israeli breakfast! We drove north from Tel Aviv along the coastal plain of the Mediterranean Sea. We began our tour of Israel in Caesarea Maritima where Cornelius, the centurion, was baptized as the first Gentile convert (Acts 10).  It is also where Paul was imprisoned before traveling to Rome to appear before Caesar (Acts 23-26.) In Caesarea, Jeff gave a teaching in the Theater.  Each group, divided by motor coaches, toured the archeological site with their Israeli guide. Next we drove up the coast to Mount Carmel. The Carmelite monastery is built on the traditional site where the prophet Elijah slew the false prophets of Ba’al (1 Kings 18.)  Then we traveled on to the region of the Galilee for Mass was at the newly opened site of Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. 

Arrival in Israel!

Arriving Pilgrims from New JerseyTonight we will all meet up at the hotel in Tel Aviv for mass and orientation time. Though there was a little snow storm in Jerusalem, there is no snow in Tel Aviv and by the time we get to Jerusalem in a few days, it will long be melted. Tomorrow the tour day starts for nearly 200 excited pilgrims on 4 separate coaches, each with a terrific Israeli guide and at least one priest.