Tuesday, May 21 – Monday, July 1, 2019

Through The Rome Experience, seminarians have the opportunity to pray and to learn at some of the holy and historically significant sites of Christianity, including the Shrine of St. John Vianney in Ars, France, the major basilicas of Rome, the Catacombs, and many more. As a pilgrimage experience, The Rome Experience encourages the seminarians prayerfully to discover the hand of God in his Church and to receive a stimulus for their spiritual lives and ongoing formation.

Download the 2019 Brochure and Application

Brochure Application (Coming soon…)




Rome, “The Eternal City,” attracts millions of visitors each year. While several visits in Rome and its environs are scheduled, seminarians will be strongly encouraged to maintain a spirit of prayer and pilgrimage, remembering that they have come to Rome as future priests to pray and study next to the Chair of St. Peter and the saints, while providing a witness to the Faith.

TUESDAY, MAY 21, 2019 (Chicago):
Arrive in Chicago
Accommodations – University of St. Mary of the Lake (Mundelein, IL)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 22, 2019 (Chicago/LYON):
Afternoon Flight Departing for Lyon, France

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2019 (LYON/Paray Le Monial):
Arrive in Lyon
Pilgrimage to Paray-Le-Monial
Accommodations – Hostellerie des Trois Pigeons

Pilgrimage to Cluny
Arrive in Ars
Accommodations – Foyer Sacerdotal Jean-Paul II

SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2019 (Ars):
Pilgrimage to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon
Begin Spiritual Retreat

wednesday, may 29, 2019 (Ars):
Retreat Ends

THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2019 (Ars/Rome):
Arrive in Rome
Accommodations – Centro Internazionale Animazione Missionaria (CIAM)

FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2019 (Rome):
Academic Program Begins
Classes at CIAM and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2019 (Rome/Barcelona):
Arrive Barcelona
Pilgrimage to Monastery and Marian Shrine of Montserrat
Accommodations – Tres Caminos

Pilgrimage to Shrine of Our Lady of Torreciudad
Day of Reflection

Visit Barbastro and Zaragoza
Arrive Madrid
Accommodations – Casa de Espiritualidad Emaus

MONDAY, JULY 1, 2019 (Madrid/Chicago):
Return to the US

* PLEASE NOTE: The itinerary is subject to change.
A final schedule will be given to each seminarian at orientation.



The program follows the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy’s Directory for the Ministry and the Life of the Priests (1994) and “The Gift of the Priesthood” (December 8, 2016).


Priests in the New Evangelization (.50 credit)

For the New Evangelization, future priests need to have a physical and spiritual closeness to people, and to touch and move people’s hearts, as Pope Francis is reminding the Church. St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, did all of these things while re-evangelizing Ars after the spiritual ravages of the French Revolution. While on retreat in Ars, seminarians will ponder the Church’s summons to a New Evangelization through the lives of the St. John Vianney, St. Josemaria, and Pope St. John Paul II.

The Human Virtues for Priestly Fatherhood,
Character, Steadfastness, and Self-Mastery
(1.25 credit)

Every priest needs to be Christ in his daily life to succeed in his priestly mission. The Directory for the Life and Ministry of the Priest emphasizes the human virtues as cornerstones for the priest being a well-rounded, resilient, and reliable man, capable of ministering effectively to God’s people. With the current confusion on gender in our society, the Church needs men with a clear priestly identity who steadfastly exercise the strength of character to help promote the holiness of all men and women, celibate and married, lay and consecrated.This course will offer a theoretical account of these virtues and how they can be acquired through Aristotelian-Thomistic anthropology, and St. Josemaria Escriva’s practical proposals for seeking holiness through the virile pursuit of the human virtues.

Instructor: Rev. Robert Gahl, Associate Professor of Ethics, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome


The Rome Experience courses are accredited by the:

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
Piazza Sant’Apollinare, 49
00186, Rome, Italy

Pastoral Practice Seminar (.50 credit)

This seminar will help the seminarian bridge the gap between the theological and spiritual principles learned during the Rome Experience with the lived experience of a parish priest. The goal is to help the seminarian to understand his future responsibility as a priest to imitate and live out Christ’s own pastoral charity—a pastoral charity that, in essence, requires a total gift of self to the Church and that makes special demands on the parish priest (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 1992).

Instructor: Rev. Eric Nielsen, Diocese of Madison; Director, St. Paul University Catholic Center, Madison, Wisconsin


Pilgrimages and Tours of the Basilicas,
Churches, and Catacombs of Rome
(1.00 credit)

The patriarchal basilicas, catacombs and other ancient churches in Rome are an encyclopedia of Church history and theology taught not in words but in indelible images of architecture, sculpture, painting and mosaic. As with the interpretation of stained glass windows, however, one needs to learn the art of “reading that encyclopedia,” by understanding the meaning and context of the symbols used. Through in-depth guided tours, readings and class discussions, seminarians will have the various volumes of this “encyclopedia” opened for them, to confirm them as followers of Christ and future evangelizers.





The Rome Experience’s daily schedule* is designed to help the participants benefit maximally from all the offerings of the program, to foster fraternity, and to remain intimately united to Christ through prayer and study.

Visits with family, friends, brother seminarians, and priests are only permitted during scheduled free time. Family and friends visiting Rome should be informed of this policy. Visits from vocation directors, rectors, or bishops may occur at any time that is convenient.


6:45   AM Morning Prayer
7:00   AM Meditation and Holy Mass
8:00   AM Breakfast
9:00   AM Class
10:00 AM Class
11:00 AM Class
1:00   PM Lunch
2:00   PM Tours/Free Time
6:45   PM Evening Prayer and Mental Prayer
7:30   PM Dinner
9:00   PM Rosary, Examination of Conscience, Night Prayer


  • Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction
  • Confession and Spiritual Direction
  • Papal Liturgies
  • Visits to Vatican Congregations
  • Tours and Excursions

* PLEASE NOTE: The daily schedule is subject to change.
A final schedule will be given to each seminarian at orientation.




The Rome Experience begins with a 5-day spiritual retreat in Ars, France focused on Christ’s presence in the Eucharist as the source and root of the priestly life. The retreat is a time for prayer, reflection, and rest to prepare the seminarians to fully absorb their spiritual pilgrimage to Rome.




Unless otherwise noted, students have free time every Saturday from noon until Sunday dinnertime.