Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 19, 1999
Trip to Italy renews students
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Teachers and students at St. Cecilia Catholic school say they feel spiritually renewed after visiting some of Italy's most sacred places.
Twenty-one Grade 8 and 9 students, many of whom are currently studying Italian language and culture as an option at St. Cecilia's, travelled to Italy during the school's spring break March 28 to April 6.
Accompanied by seven adults, including Italian teacher Silvia Franzese and her colleague Adriana Fadi, the trip organizers, the students visited Venice, Florence, Sienna, Rome, Sorrento, Capri and Pompeii.
The 10-day guided tour was intended to give the students an opportunity to broaden and sharpen their perspective of the culture, language and history of Italy.
But for many of the students the tour was also a rich religious experience that renewed their faith.
"I think this trip brought most of us a lot closer to God," noted student Laura Paquette. "It was so moving to see such a religious country where everybody is so strong about their beliefs."
The students visited many temples and cathedrals, including St. Mark's Cathedral in Florence; there they learned it took many sacrifices and more than 400 years to complete the cathedral.
A tour of the catacombs - the underground burial sites of many martyrs - reminded the students of the persecutions of the early Christians. While there, they visited the statue and tomb of St. Cecilia - their school's patron saint - and learned more about her life.
The tour guides explained everything and students "learned a lot about the saints," noted Franzese.
The tourists visited Vatican City and had the opportunity to admire Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel.
Student Laurie Gettis is still mesmerized by the "beautiful scenery" and "the memories."
Visiting the churches and the Vatican was an "awesome" experience for the 13-year-old. "It's just incredible to see how beautiful it was in there, how they could have done such a beautiful thing. It was incredible."
Student Sommer Kotyk was equally impressed with the churches and the artwork in them. "I could never imagine that famous artists could paint inside the churches. It's amazing. I thought artwork belonged in museums."
Stephen Atamaniuk, 14, will never forget the trip. "I got a life of memories," he said.
As far as he is concerned, "everything in Italy has religious overtones." Religious icons are sold everywhere, he noted. "To see these people, to witness their strong faith is really inspirational."
Visiting the churches was also inspirational and breathtaking for Atamaniuk. "When you go into some these churches you look up and you can't believe that people actually built them. They built them hundreds of years ago and didn't have the technology that we have now."
Fadi, one of the trip organizers, said Italian architecture reflects that society's values. "Here our tallest buildings are commercial buildings. There (in Italy), their tallest buildings are places of worship that took decades and even centuries to build."
Most students brought back religious icons and rosaries as souvenirs, noted Franzese.
Parents worked bingos and students sold slurpees to finance the trip, which came to $2,550 per person.