Sunday, June 30Cologne, Dusseldorf, Neuss 

We had our last visit to a Benedictine monastery today. Greeted by oblates and sisters, we were welcomed with Mass, a true “unity in diversity” experience singing together in Latin, German and English, and an unexpected lunch and ice cream social afterward.

The Benedictine Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament Convent in Cologne extended us warm hospitality (and by warm, I mean so unbelievably HOT inside the church that the sweat was rolling….and yet, it was one of the most sacred experiences. I think I speak for all pilgrims, that we would not have missed this visit for anything.) The sisters are joy-filled, love to have fun and they love their ice cream, made from their own dairy cows out back.  See videos of Mass and music HERE




Quite a difference to follow up with a visit to the Cathedral of Cologne. Cologne Cathedral is in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. It is so magnificent that it is hard to take it all in. I had been anxious to visit this Cathedral since meeting the Bishop of Wurzburg on pilgrimage 5 years ago. He had asked where we were visiting. When I had listed the many sites we would see, he responded, “If you do not go to Cologne, you have not seen Germany!”





In one afternoon, we went from the infamous Cathedral of Cologne to strolling the famous promenade of Düsseldorf and drinking an “altbier” at the world’s longest bar along the Rhine. Altbier is a style of beer brewed in the historical region of Westphalia and around the city of Düsseldorf, Germany. Its name comes from it being top-fermented, an older method than the bottom fermentation of other laagered beers.


In the evening we enjoyed a bittersweet farewell dinner together in a local brewery in Neuss. The food was generous, the sentiment celebratory, the messages heartwarming.

Our dear trip planner and guide, Fritz Minhard, and Fr. Volker, have been on many pilgrimages together. Fr. Volker would not consider planning another pilgrimage without Fritz as our guide—a testimony to how much he feels for Fritz as a professional and as a friend, as do the many pilgrims who have grown to love him as well. Fr. Volker has maintained this will be his last pilgrimage, so the goodbyes brought tears for many.

It is finished, this pilgrimage of new and old friends. Now the reflection of the experience begins—what was learned? What was gained? What can be given up? What are the lasting memories and cherished moments? What is better left forgotten or forgiven? This pilgrimage is a journey…and will continue. Final pilgrimage reflections tomorrow.