Why should I go on a pilgrimage?

Pilgrimage means making a journey to a sacred place in order to draw closer to God. To journey as a pilgrim is a different sort of journey than going as a tourist. To travel as a tourist is to be acquisitive--what can I acquire to bring home? Lots of photos and videos... a good suntan... stuff that I've bought....  To travel as a pilgrim is to be receptive--what does God want to give me and how can I be open and receptive to that?

Susan and John Skillen



Susan Skillen is Canon for Spiritual Formation for the Anglican Diocese in New England (ADNE). She began bringing pilgrimage groups to Italy in 2000 and has since led over 20 pilgrimages. She is a trained spiritual director and completed her training through the Shalem Institute in 1996. She now trains spiritual directors for the ADNE (Holy Conversations). During the seven years the Skillens lived in Orvieto, Susan founded and was priest-in-charge of the Church of the Resurrection, the only non-Catholic and English speaking church in the city. 

John Skillen, beginning in 1998 founded and was the director of Gordon College's arts-oriented semester in Orvieto for its first ten years. He now directs the Studio for Art, Faith and History and serves in Gordon's Global Education Department. Over the past 30 years he has led many groups to Italy, England and other parts of Europe as well as directing conferences and seminars in theology and the arts in Italy. 

Susan and John have four grown daughters. 

Dianna Kunce and Denise Easter

Dianna and Denise are Presbyterian pastors and are co-founders and co-executive directors of Renewal Ministries Northwest, based in Seattle WA. They are both trained spiritual directors and inner healing prayer ministers. For over 20 years they have led many guided prayer retreats and spiritual discernment retreats for individuals, congregations and other groups. They also lead individuals and groups through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This is the second time they have offered the Contemplatives in Action pilgrimage.

Debbie and Jan Gill

Debbie and Jan are spiritual spiritual adventurers. Ever since their 2014-15 sabbatical--a giant 12-month, 12-country spiritual pilgrimage--they have been leading an annual pilgrimage and prayer retreat for other spiritual seekers. Jan is an architect, sailboat racer, and contemplative Christian specializing in ancient and Orthodox spirituality. Debbie is a seminary professor at AGTS/EU, an ordained minister with the AG, and founder and director of Sherpa, Guidance for the Spiritual Climb, a ministry of spiritual formation and direction. Together they love journeying deeper in the presence and power of God and invite others to join them on a wonderful journey.

Comments from Pilgrims

"This pilgrimage certainly met all my expectations and more. I really loved all aspects of it--teaching, prayer, writing, reflecting, day trips, fellowship around meals and a walkable city. Mille Grazie." 

"Honestly, I loved everything. I loved learning about the saints and the meditations interwoven with the day trips, and amazing meals, and free time. I loved it all." 

"I liked the quietness of San Lodovico, the dissimilarity with a commercial hotel, and the simplicity of the rooms."

"I loved the garden, courtyard, and especially the chance to see the sisters from time to time."

"All the places were beautiful, some because of the art/frescos, some for where they were. Each held a sacredness, a profound presence of the Holy, a mystery of the Divine Love. All were wonderful to experience."


"The food was fabulous and creative, offering us a taste of Italy. I loved the family style eating."
"It was important to me to participate in the communal aspects of the retreat, to get to know each person a little better, just to be together in prayer was a powerful community practice."

"Very meaningful to see the prayers prayed by monks; be sure to do this again. Glad I got a chance to see Poor Clares do so, too."