Home/Stay Informed/All Diocesan Articles

All Diocesan Articles



Pilgrimage to the Passion Play of Oberammergau

Posted on October 06, 2022 in: News

Pilgrimage to the Passion Play of Oberammergau

After waiting three years to see Eastern Europe, our journey began with the announcement of a pilots’ strike by Lufthansa, our designated airline carrier to Prague, the capitol of the Czech Republic. With some creative re-arrangements, our travel agent divided the 29 of us into groups, sending some to Amsterdam via KLM and some to Warsaw via LOT Airlines.  With amazement, we all were together at our hotel in Prague by evening the following day; with Fr. Mark arriving on the last flight!

We were blessed to have four priests on our Pilgrimage: our host Fr. Mark O’Donnell, Pastor St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Community of New London, Fr. Roland Cloutier, Fr. Joe Sidera, and Fr. Dennis Mercieri.  Our four priests officiated at Mass, gave thoughtful homilies, recited daily prayers, and read Biblical readings on the bus each day, enhancing the religious experience of our journey. Fr. Mark tested our knowledge of the Bible through a series of questions requiring answers.  This revealed to him and to all of us that (other than the members of the clergy) we will need some diligent study to prepare for our next Pilgrimage and Fr. Mark’s round of Biblical questions.

The 11 day itinerary featured visits to Prague, Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest, Vienna, and finally Oberammergau.  Our first Mass on Sunday was celebrated by Fr. Mark assisted by the other priests at the beautiful Our Lady of Victory Church (Shrine of the Infant of Prague). Following this, we were indeed privileged to attend Holy Mass celebrated each day by a different priest at some beautiful Basilicas, Chapels, including a Monastery Chapel.

In Prague we toured the area of the Prague Castle, home of Czech Princes and Kings since the 9th Century, featuring a complex of palaces, courtyards, with the prominent St. Vitus Cathedral, all covering a hill known as Hradcany. Next to the Town Hall, we were captivated by the Astronomical Clock, completed in 1574, that gives the month, season, zodiac signs, and course of the sun. Moreover, on the hour a door opens and a skeleton appears; reminder of our limited time on earth. Death rings in the hour while quarter hours are marked by the 4 stages of life: child, youth and adult and old age. The apostles pass, and the model of Christ blesses the crowd. During the procession a cock crows 3 times.  

In Budapest we climbed 100 stairs up Gellert Hill (named after Bishop Gellert who tried unsuccessfully to convert the Magyars to Christianity; sadly he met his death by being thrown off this hill into the river Danube).  From the top of the hill we had many photo-ops, seeing the Danube River dividing the ancient city of Buda from Pest, the modern city together with the panoramic views from above.  This area, called the Citadel, was built after the War of Independence 1848-49 to watch over unhappy citizens.  Interestingly, the rubric cube and Brahms composition “Hungarian Dances” are products of Budapest.

Later in the week Holy Mass was celebrated at the Basilica of St. Ann in Altotting Germany, the home of the Black Madonna of Altotting, associated with many miracles.  Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, was born near here in Bavaria and has visited as Pontiff. 

In addition to the Passion Play, one of the highlights was our visit with Msgr. Kevin Randall at the Apostolic Nunciature in Vienna. Msgr. Randall is a CT native who has served at St. Joseph Church in New London and is now a member of the diplomatic corps of the Vatican.  His assignments have brought his ministry to Peru, Rwanda, Johannesburg South Africa, and now to Vienna.  His tour of duty is about 3 years with the purpose of immersing him in different cultures.  Msgr. Randall’s magnetic personality and graciousness was evident during our visit.  He spent time instructing us on the directives from the Vatican suggesting guidelines for the diplomatic Mission.  As a “grace note” to the evening, Msgr. Randall set up some delicious hors d’oeuvres and pastries for our group.  We are all proud to know Msgr. Randall, and wish him every success in his new assignments. 

In our second night in Vienna, some of us attended a concert featuring the compositions of Strauss and Mozart.  Because the passing of Queen Elizabeth of England, the concert master altered the program to play British anthems and national hymns out of respect for a woman who was dearly loved by all.  We were pleased to be part of this tribute.

On our way to Oberammergau, our guide Karl provided a thumbnail history of the Passion Play.  He related that the 30 year war (1618-1648) caused the bubonic plague or Black Death.  At that time it was believed that this was God’s punishment that required one to pray for God’s mercy.  Out of this resulted the first Passion Play in 1634.  The theater for the play has been rebuilt many times, most recently in 1999 housing 5000 seats.

In the beautiful Bavarian village, high in the mountains of Oberammergau, with its frescoed buildings and wood carvers’ cottages, we attended the Passion Play. There are about 2,000 people living in the village who are members of the cast.  There is a full orchestra and about 200 in the choir.

The Passion Play is a very emotional experience.  The play is performed in two parts: one from 1-4 pm (events leading to the Passion) and the other from 7-10 pm (the Passion itself).  The content of the play had references to the Old as well as the New Testament.  The dialog was in German. We were given a booklet with English translations which was a nice help even though we could easily recognize events on the stage.  About 5000 attended the performance that will extend until early November. 

A couple seated in front of us told us that they have attended the 2000, 2010, and the 2022 performances and that the play has become an enduring religious experience for them.  Upon the conclusion, the actors left the stage and did not return even to a resounding applause.  Fr. Mark mentioned that this is because they are offering their performance to Almighty God and was not for themselves.  We all left the arena in silence consumed with the enormity of what we had just witnessed.

By Thomas Carty

Most Viewed Articles of the Last 30 Days

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Posted on November 17, 2022 in: News, Reflections


A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
God, all powerful, most holy, most high and supreme; Father: holy and righteous; Lord: king of heaven and earth; we thank you for yourself, because by your holy will and through your only Son and the Holy Spirit you created all things, spiritual and material. You made us in your image and likeness and placed us in paridise, and we, through our transgression fell away. We give you thanks because, as you created us through your Son, so by the holy love with which you loved us you willed your Son to be born true God and true man of the glorious and holy ...

Read More

In Memoriam: Sr. Mary Alice Kline, RSM

Posted on November 07, 2022 in: News, Vocations


In Memoriam: Sr. Mary Alice Kline, RSM
Sister Mary Alice Kline, RSM, died peacefully on Baggot Street, Saint Mary Home, West Hartford, on Wednesday, October 26th. Born in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 1934, she was a Sister of Mercy for 69 years, she served in ministries throughout CT. Sister Mary Alice earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education at the Diocesan Sisters’ College, Madison CT, (1956), a Masters’ Degree in French from Assumption College, Worcester, MA (1963), an Advanced Certificate in Elementary Education from Southern CT State University, New Britain, CT (1976), and a Masters&rsq...

Read More

NEW: School of Spiritual Direction in Putnam, CT
The Immaculate Conception Center in Putnam, CT - in partnership with Franciscan University's School of Spiritual Direction - is offering a two-week intensive training program in spiritual direction, January 29- February 11, 2023. This is the first part of a three-year program for Certification in Spiritual Direction. There is a great hunger for spiritual direction and a need for qualified spiritual directors who are willing to serve the Church by leading others to a deeper intimacy with God. Those who are interested or feel that they can benefit from such a program c...

Read More

Spiritual Renewal Services
Seminarians Run a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot around Vatican City
American seminarians in Rome began Thanksgiving Day with a race around the world’s smallest country. The 13th Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot around Vatican City State kicked off with an early start at the Pontifical North American College on Nov. 24. More than 130 seminarians, priests, and Catholic college students gathered near the starting line at 5:30 a.m. with t-shirts proudly proclaiming “the world’s only 5K to go around It was a seminarian sweep for the top three finishers of “the world’s only 5K to go around a sover...

Read More

'Let Yourself Be Loved' - Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Saint of the Month: Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity The Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity on November 8. “Let yourself be loved”, Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote to her Prioress, Mother Germaine. This French Discalced Carmelite Sister was gifted to the Church for the years of 1880-1906. By her hands during her years as a religious, God wrote of His Trinitarian love for us. Sister Elizabeth died of Addison’s disease three years after professing final vows. Since then, she was beatified by St. John Paul II in 1984 and ...

Read More

Centennial Celebration of 'The Mother Church of Eastern Connecticut' - and a Plea to Save It
On Sunday, December 11, 2023 Saint Mary Parish, Est. 1845 “The Mother Church of Eastern Connecticut” Celebrates the Centennial of Its Building Although the dedication of St. Mary Church took place on December 10, 1922, parishioners past and present, members of the Catholic family, and all neighbors are invited to A Multicultural Centennial Mass Sunday, December 11 at 10:30, Followed by a Festive Shared Meal The languages, music, decor, and forms of celebration at the centennial Mass and reception will reflect the richness of St. Mary Pari...

Read More

Our Advertisers Support Our Ministries

Please Support Our Advertisers

Annual Catholic Appeal


Signup for Weekly Newsletter

    Recently Added Galleries
    Click to view album: Mass of Ordination  for Fr. Jacob Ramos
    Click to view album: Mass of Ordination for Father Lawrence Barile
    Click to view album: Palm Sunday
    Click to view album: Blessing of the Fleet
    Latest Articles
    Save the Dates: Virtual Adult Confirmation Program
    Advent Is Here - He is About to Arrive
    Centennial Celebration of 'The Mother Church of Eastern Connecticut' - and a Plea to Save It
    Enroll Today in Classes at the New England Catholic Biblical School
    ACA: It's Not Too Late to Give
    In Memoriam - Sr. Anita Paul, DHS
    Video: A Visit to St. Mary of the Immacualte Conception in Baltic
    We Can Help. Promise to Protect-Pledge to Heal

    Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich
    201 Broadway
    Norwich, CT 06360-4328
    Phone: 860-887-9294