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When I was younger, I traveled a bit.  I went to Paris with Opus Dei in 1997 for World Youth Day and then to Rome, first in 2000 for World Youth Day again and then in 2001 as part of a course I was taking for my Minor in Catholic Studies.  Finally, I went to Ireland, again for a class.  My travels weren’t the result of random wanderlust.  All of my excursions were centered around my faith and my love of the Church and Her long, rich history.

Now, as a mother-of-“many,” I find my travels consist more of the occasional day trip to the Jersey shore and even rarer overnight at my sister’s or friend’s houses.  Somehow, packing for eight is just so much more complicated and annoying that packing for one.  It’s a pain to load and unload the van, and flying is completely out of the question with this many people.  For right now at least, travelling is simply not in the cards for our family.

My husband and I have not given up on the idea of sharing the wonderful Catholic sites the world has to offer with our children though.  Right now we may have to content ourselves with online field trips, but we dream of a day when, after we’ve made out millions, we’ll happily globe trot with our kids in tow.  To that end, we keep what we call our Catholic Family Vacation Bucket List.  I thought I’d share, since perhaps there are others who actually are able to travel with a little more ease than us at the moment.

Catholic Family Vacation Bucket List

  1. Rome:  Yes, it’s cliche, but it’s still the number one destination on our list.  I can think of no better vacation than one that involves strolling through the streets of Rome, eating gelato, and taking in all of the beautiful churches and historic places.  Plus, Catholic kids love martyrs.  Period.  How amazing would it be to show your children where some of the greats were actually martyred?  The mystery and intrigue sparked in the imagination of a child when talking about those early years of the Church in Rome can only truly be appreciated when actually standing in Scavi and gazing on St. Peter’s grave.
  2. Lourdes: This place is actually on my own bucket list, since I’ve never been.  My husband assures me though that it is well worth the long flight and the long lines.  We want to show our children the miraculous spring and the basilica.  Plus, I hear the views from the funicular are amazing.
  3. St. Augustine, FL: Ok, so we’ve actually been here as a family already, but I for one would love to go back.  There is just so much to see about the early Church in America.  The oldest cathedral in the country is there, for one, as well the site where the first Mass was said in America.  In addition to all of the Catholic sites, there are also the secular history sites to explore, such as the fort.
  4. Rio de Janeiro: I have been in awe of the statue of Christ the Redeemer since I first read about it as a young girl.  I can only imagine standing at its base and experiencing that enormous statue looking out over the valley below.
  5. Assisi: Yes, back to Italy we go.  What child doesn’t love St. Francis?  Mine all do, and a trip to Assis, to see the Basilicas of St. Francis and Mary of the Angels would be an amazing experience.  There are amazing views and spending a day there is like stepping back in time to thanks to its being a medieval village.
  6. England: It’s vague, I know, but before she turned, England gave rise to some of the Church’s brightest saints, St. Thomas More, for one.  In trying to plan a trip here one would have to first determine whether one wanted to visit the grave site of his head or his body.  Again, children love martyrs, making this a fantastic way to interest them in a “religious” vacation.

There are obviously many, many more places a Catholic family could go for a religious and entertaining vacation, but for this family, these are at the top of our bucket list.

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