James Sardella ‘15,
Recently, a group of about 40 Merrimack students and faculty members got to travel to Italy thanks to the Pellegrinaggio in Italia: In Search of Augustinian Community course offered here at Merrimack. The trip is a ten-day experience over the course of spring break, during which the group travels to Augustinian Italy and follow the footsteps of Saint Augustine, led by Father Jim Wenzel.
In order to get an idea of the trip, Matt Wilson (2015) offered to share his experiences. Matt explained that this is not just some spring break trip to Italy for fun, but rather, “It is an opportunity to travel while learning about a figure that is central to our college. You get a once in a lifetime experience while also having fun.”
Due to the extremely limited number of students that can attend this trip, students must fill out an application and then be interviewed before being selected for this experience. For those who are selected they must attend a class once a month, between September and February. This class, which runs two and a half to three hours each session, teaches the students about Saint Augustine’s life and the importance and relevance of all the places that they are going to visit in Italy.
When asked what the main purpose behind this trip is, Matt said, “Well, it is a spiritual experience. You get to experience an entirely new culture filled with places you have never seen and people you have never met and as you learn about Saint Augustine while following his footsteps, you begin to reflect on your own life and your own footsteps.” When Matt described his most memorable moment from the trip, he stated, “The best part was going to the incredible places and experiencing their wonder with the unique perspective that is only available through this trip. Father Jim has a lot of connections with the other Augustinians in Italy and it helped create a better feeling for everything.”
The Pellegrinaggio in Italia course satisfies the second institutional requirement in religios and theological studies and counts as a credited course for the semester. If you are interested in receiving more information about the Pellegrinaggio trip feel free to stop by the Office of International Programs and speak to one of the two study abroad advisors, Kathy Vaillancourt and Jessica Walsh.