We promised that we would share more about what we have been up to this summer, so here you are! Earlier this summer (in June) we were blessed with the opportunity to take a pilgrimage (and it truly was a pilgrimage!) out West, with our destination being Las Vegas (of all places!) for the ordination of Fr. Diodoro Mendoza to the priesthood. Fr. Diodoro is a good friend of ours and it was truly worth it to make the trip, by car, all the way to Las Vegas.
God provided in so many ways for us on our trip. In His providence He arranged for places for us to stay with people we didn't even know (found through mutual friends), but who will now remain our friends. He provided donations, great weather and so many memories. He placed so many beautiful people in our path, connecting us, as He loves to do, with those who would inspire us and those whose lives He wanted us to touch.
The highlight of our trip was Fr. Diodoro's ordination and his first Divine Liturgy the next day, both at his home parish, Our Lady of Wisdom Byzantine Catholic Church in Las Vegas. Our Church has been gifted with an amazing priest! At Fr. Diodoro's first Divine Liturgy it seemed to us like he had been a priest for years--his celebration of the Liturgy and preaching seemed so natural to him--he was made for this! :) It was also wonderful to spend time with the seminarians and all of the people we met.
On our way to Las Vegas we stopped at several National Parks, including Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon. These excursions were blessed opportunities to enjoy the beauty of God's creation, spend some time in quiet contemplation and speak to other visitors who were curious about our way of life. Some favorite memories include singing "O Joyful Light" at the Grand Canyon as we watched the sun set, hiking at Bryce Canyon and sitting in the silence of the desert at night at Arches National Park.
On our way out and our way back we stopped at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Church in Denver and joined the parish for Divine Liturgy. We loved meeting the parishoners and spending time with Fr. Michael O'Loughlin and his family. Our final scenic excursion was Rocky Mountain National Park with Fr. Michael, and then we headed home. On the way home we also stopped at Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Church in Homer Glen, Ill., and joined the parish for vespers and Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. God continued to bless us even as we returned home, introducing us to a beautiful family at the parish. We enjoyed our last night of the trip with a cookout with Fr. Tom and these parishioners.
We thank all the amazing people who hosted us or supported us in various ways throughout our trip! It was a much-needed and inspiring pilgrimage, and we will cherish these memories forever!