The Czech Bishops’ Conference has recently launched a new website dedicated to the phenomenon of “ecclesial tourism” with a specific goal: to step up general interest for ecclesial historic monuments and buildings, as well as pilgrimage sites in the Czech Republic whilst indirectly raising awareness over Church life and mission. “By sharing historical values we intend to reach people’s souls and offer them an encounter with Christian spirituality in one of the most attractive forms. We are open to all visitors, regardless of their religious faith, in the hope that the common breath of ancient and modern Christianity may inspire and unite” them, pointed out the promoters of the project.
Bridges of trust and respect. For many years the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic – generally considered among the most atheist in European Countries – has been committed in extending bridges of trust and respect towards civil society. The promotion of ecclesial tourism is one of the forms of this approach and the initiative is delivering positive results. The project dedicated to this theme, along with the Night of the Churches and several local campaigns in Bohemia and Moravia, shows that enriching the ecclesial realm “with a lay touch” attracts the attention of the young generation in particular. A positive experiment of penetration into spirituality within a secular environment took place in Brno during the third weekend of January.
Several thousand people have visited the stand of the Catholic Church dedicated to ecclesial tourism during the international Fair Regiontour
Thereby spreading the knowledge of this branch of tourism to the general public.
Discovering something new. The purpose of ecclesial tourism for the year 2016 is based on two major pillars: the promotion of pilgrimage sites at national and diocesan level and the sharing of some “experiences” of hospitality to visitors in convents and monasteries. “History shows that religious orders have been among the first to open their doors to travellers and pilgrims, providing them with food and lodging. This dimension of their mission is still thriving, and we want to make it known”, said the members of religious congregations and orders participating in the Regiontour in Brno.
A few days ago was presented a new leaflet simply titled “Pilgrimage sites”:
it contains a list of religious sites and monuments with maps and a detailed description of historical events, the current situation, spiritual, educational and cultural events and activities that will be held in 2016, along with a list of more or less known stories on the pilgrimage sites. “Pilgrimages should encourage us to leave the known paths of our everyday life and discover something new. We often happen to have the most beautiful experiences in unknown places, hidden to the sight of the main tracks”, claimed Msgr. Vojtech Cikrle, bishop of Brno, who invites everyone to visit not only pilgrimage sites that are renowned nationwide, but also the “small chapels in the woods, surrounded by the beauty of nature and by God’s creation.”
Welcoming parishes. The recently launched website www.cirkevnituristika.cz, is a special opportunity for Catholic parishes to present “the art of their pastoral commitment”, their traditions, moral and spiritual values, whilst bearing witness to their religious faith as a community. “The project was conceived with the purpose of responding to the message of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant people, which expresses the wish that large numbers of parishes will be included in tourist destinations, that they shall welcome visitors offering them a liturgical, educational and cultural opportunity for encounter, in the firm belief that also during our free time, we must never neglect God.”
In line with this philosophy “Czech parishes registered on the website intend to propose a “welcoming pastoral service” focused on “the brotherhood of openness” within “an actively engaged community, rich with human warmth.”