It’s a historic time to be at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI steps down Thursday.
That announcement reverberated throughout the Catholic world and a group of South Huntington students got caught in its wake.
The specter of the 85-year-old pope’s retirement hung over the Church as the St. Anthony’s High School Chorus toured Sicily, Italy and the Vatican last week.
"Our pilgrimage was really a great opportunity to pray and learn about the history of our Catholic faith,” St. Anthony’s Principal Bro. Gary Cregan said. “The trip was more memorable than I anticipated."
The South Huntington parochial school sent a contingent of about 140 students, staff and parents overseas during winter break.
While the group had an audience with the pope canceled, the St. Anthony’s students did get to soak in the Holy city.
“The San Damiano Concert Tour can be compared to Mount Etna which we were able to climb this year in sunny and snowy weather,” said Bro. Joshua, Chorus director. “We began musically as an ember and then exploded with energy as we progressed along each religious and concert step of the way."
Chaperone and St. Anthony’s teacher Christina Buehler said students visited some of the most sacred locations central to Catholicism, from St. Peter’s Basilica to the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi.
“As a teacher of foreign languages,” Buehler said, “I always love seeing the students immerse themselves into both the language and culture of a foreign country.”