Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Like most of us, I am spending some time on vacation these summer days. Last week I spent some time in Springfield, Illinois, visiting my sister and friends. I also spent some time at Calvary Cemetery in Springfield, where my great great grandparents (who were born in Ireland and immigrated to central Illinois), great grandparents, grandparents and now my parents were laid to rest. I was able to spend some time as well at the retreat center that is on the grounds of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St Francis.

As I write this I am at JFK Airport in New York, on my way to Italy where I plan to spend some time in Bergamo, then south of Rome near San Felice Circeo, and then a few days in Rome at the North American College.

I hope to be able to attend the Wednesday audience of Pope Francis as well.

Several years ago, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the importance of rest, travel and reflection in the summer, and that is what I am doing at the moment. He said: “During these quiet days of summer, let us thank the Lord for the many blessings we have received and draw ever closer to him in prayer, in fidelity to his commandment of love, and in communion with his Body, the Church.”

I will celebrate Masses for you and all of your intentions when I am in Rome. I hope to be able to celebrate Mass at Sotto Il Monte, the hometown of Pope John XXIII, and then later on at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Blessed and safe and renewing summer days for us all. God bless you and thank you for all that you do, and your witness of Faith in so many ways.

+Kevin W. Vann