Fr. Franz Joseph Aquino
October 4, 2023
“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” ~Psalm 62: 1,8
A praycation is a vacation with the Lord. The journey’s end is not just the physical places you visit; but an inner place where your soul finds rest in God. It is a delightful mix of prayers and reflection, visits to local sites, and partaking of local cuisine and culture while enjoying the company of fellow travelers. Enjoy a break wand join a 5-day Praycation to Vietnam with a Pilgrimage Chaplain on October 4 to 8, 2023.
Begin your pilgrimage in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City. Vibrating with energy, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the economic heart of Vietnam. A freewheeling, cosmopolitan metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City’s dynamic cityscape draws together old and new Vietnam in the most compact of spaces, representing the city’s past as well as its future.
Visit the Duc Ba Cathedral or Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon. Honored as one of the world’s 19 most majestic cathedrals and the only representative in Southeast Asia, this long-lasting masterpiece is seen as the architectural symbol of Ho Chi Minh City. Take a photo stop at the Municipal Post Office. Built around 1886 – 1891, it is one of the oldest buildings in Ho Chi Minh City based on Villedieu’s design, a famous French architect. Pass by the Ho Chi Minh City People Committee (formerly the French City Hall before 1975), and the Municipal Theater built in 1899. See Saigon’s Chinatown, noted for the structure of shop houses that the Chinese brought from South China at the beginning of the 18th century. Drive by the historical boulevard to see the old US embassy and the Prime Ministerial Building.
Take a historic excursion to the Cu Chi Underground Tunnels, a network of underground tunnels used by Viet Cong fighters during the Vietnam War to fight the US troops. Learn how these tunnels were used as hiding spots, weapon caches, living spaces, and hospitals.
Leave Saigon for your overnight stay in Vung Tau, a pretty seaside resort town located in southern Vietnam . Visit Christ Hill, the largest Christian structure in Asia. With a height of 32 meters (105 ft) and a width of 18.3 meters (60 ft), it’s hard not to notice how similar this monument is compared to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. A pathway makes the 30-minute hike up the mountain pleasant, and the awesome panoramic view of Vung Tau city from various vista points along the way is magnificent.
Stop by the Quan Am Pagoda, famous for its 18-meter statue of Quan Am, commonly known as Guan Yin or the Goddess of Mercy, standing on a lotus with a vase in her hand looking to the sea in front of the pagoda building. Head for the Bai Dau Pilgrimage Center, a beautiful church up on the hill of Vung Tau with a statue of the Blessed Mother with the Child Jesus on her shoulder. You can climb to the top of the statue both by stairs and along a winding path, where small compositions depicting the path of Christ are installed. Across is the Cathedral of Saint Virgin Mary, standing on the side of hill, 28 meters above sea level. Return to Saigon and shup at the Ben Thanh Market, a famous destination for many local and foreign visitors.
Visit the Tan Dinh Church, also known as the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the second-largest and one of the most beautiful churches in Ho Chi Minh City. It has been painted pastel-pink both on the exterior and interior since 1957, earning it the nickname “the pink church.” On to visit the Ancient House, Saigon’s oldest house. This place not only attracts tourists by its bold oriental design, but it also contains deep historical meaning. Next stop is the Reunification Palace (formerly Independence Palace), the most famous symbolic site of the liberation of Saigon by communist forces that reunited the nation in 1975, and the War Remnant Museum, where victims of US military action are given the space to tell their side of the story.
End your praycation in District 5 to visit the oldest of all the churches in Ho Chi Minh City, Cho Quan Church andthe Fatima Binh Trieu, a Marian pilgrimage site.
Set out on a Praycation to Vietnam with a Pilgrimage Chaplain on October 4 to 8, 2023. May this spiritual journey bring you unforgettable memories and new friendships.
The whole pilgrimage is a new and fulfilling moment in my life. It’s a nice feeling being with the Lord in His important day. And also, gaining new friends and becoming my new extended family is something I will treasure. I hope that this is just the beginning and we’ll continue to get in touch with one another despite the distance.Brenda
It was indeed a wonderful Pilgrimage: very rich in history, a thanksgiving of blessings, a spiritual renewal and nourishment, and finally ending in a test of Faith.
Thank you so much Pilgrim Leader, Ging Igual, for standing beside us up to the last stretch of our 13-day journey - more particularly in the handling of an unexpected situation (cancelled flight in Mexico and re-direction of flights to make sure the 38 Pilgrims reach LA for their respective flight bookings). Ging, you were an angel to us so blessed with energy, passion, love and Milagrosa. We really felt the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe fielding angels every step of the way.
The Pilgrimage to California Mission Churches and Our Lady of Guadalupe gives me personal inspiration for the work and activities of the next chapter of my lifetime: farming with promotion of agriculture for millennials (inspired by the scenic view of farms in California), tourism (which is a major industry in all places we visited), and support for a favourite major seminary in Tagaytay and a scholarship fund for deserving individuals (thru a non stock non profit institution).
Thank you to my Co-Pilgrims and prayer partners for the prayer support, sharing of life experiences and friendships; Fr. Tony, thank you for your spiritual reflections and service; Fr. Jerry Orbos for an overflowing spiritual reflections and enabling us to have the needed personal encounter with Jesus and Mama Mary (it was like a 12-day Holy Retreat); and the Executive Resources for making a very nice pilgrimage package a part of our lifetime.Ms. Emma
Lord, we cannot find words enough to say how grateful we are to You. Our pilgrimage made us realize that Your love for us is more than what we deserve.
To all our co-pilgrims, thank you for making us feel we belong to this new family. To Fr. Dante, thanks for your prayers and pieces of advice for our spiritual nourishment. To Sis Lea, for taking care of each one of us. To Sis Joy, thanks for the contagious joys and laughters.
To our prayer partners, Sis Maribel, Melvy and Didick and Bro Mon and Sis Jot, thank you for your prayers. We will pray for you, too!
To The Pilgrim’s Center - Executive Resources, thank you for accommodating us in this Eastern Europe Pilgrimage.
God bless us all always!Albert and Adee
Dear Pilgrims' Center:
My husband Aldo & I would like to praise & commend our Pilgrim Chaplain Fr. Dante Venus & our Tour Leader Bro. Monty for the very successful & memorable pilgrimage to Italy & the Holy Land we were very fortunate to join on March 26-April 8, 2018.
It was very hectic to be sure, but still they managed our time very well that we were able to visit more places than was promised in the itinerary, and we are very appreciative of that. Likewise, the solemnity of the whole pilgrimage experience was still observed despite many of us in the group, myself included, often forgetting that we were pilgrims & not tourists 😉😉, taking photos, selfies, etc. instead of, or before focusing on what the local guide was explaining or on the scripture readings. I cannot fault us pilgrims on this because for many of us seniors, and I speak for my husband & I, that trip might be our first & last time to visit those places, so we made sure they were properly documented. Nonetheless, it was a truly spiritually uplifting & life-changing experience for us. We continue to thank our Lord for making that experience of a lifetime possible. Indeed, nothing is impossible for God! Thank you very much to Fr. Dante, Bro. Monty & to each of us pilgrims in the group for the prayers, love, care & concern shown to each other. Let us continue to pray for and with each other. It is my hope that we meet each other again soon, to strengthen our bonds of friendships.
Most sincerely, Leclec CabusoraLeclec Cabusora
My husband and I just came back from a wonderful trip to Israel - with Franciscan Fr Reu Galoy. Thank you Pilgrim Center for the arrangements. We are so happy and satisfied with all that you have done for us. Kudos to Yanyan and Monty from Pilgrim Center, and Fr Reu and Ronin for your caring services. It was a spiritual journey and we felt the abiding presence of the Lord all throughout.Ann Arguelles Cortes
Our pilgrimage was worth all the hardships (I was having leg pains). We had an excellent leader in the person of Adrian, two priests Fathers Val and Ron, who gave us very nice pieces of advice and homilies, and of course the members of the group who were all very nice. Looking forward to join another pilgrimage.Emily Bautista
It was the most profound experience I had in my whole life....Walking with the Footsteps where Jesus walked made my life more grateful and humble....My faith become stronger as I express it...A growing faith is a sharing faith....TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!! SHALOM!Carmen Nierra
Vir & I would like to express our gratitude for a wonderful pilgrimage we had from Sept 5-18. From checking-in last Sept 5 & all during the tour, we felt the care from a family. No words can ever describe how thankful we are.
I almost cried last Sept 8, (my birthday) when we (2 of us have the same birthday) were given a surprise mini celebration when after our dinner, we were given a cake. I really felt the love of a family then.
All these things made possible because of your capable coordinator Ms. Ging Igual. She's such a wonderful leader. Kudos to her.
Rest assured that i will refer your company to all my friends who are planning to go on pilgrimage .
Good day & may God always guide & protect all of you in the Pilgrims' Center/ Executive Resources, Inc.Cora and Vir Franca
I am honored to be included in this pilgrimage. The Pilgrims' Center has very good itineraries worth remembering. No hours wasted. They took very good care of us in spite of our big number of 47 people. The daily mass and homilies of Fr. Manny Cruz held in different shrines and churches were very inspirational and transforming. Accommodations were nice most especially the one on top of the Mountain with an awesome view built in 1909. It's like travelling back in time. I definitely would want to do it again with Pilgrim Center.Peter Joseph Mapua
The Pilgrims' Center always gives you the best. They let you feel like an Executive in terms of personal service & attention especially during pilgrimage. Their choices of pilgrimages and pilgrim chaplains are outstanding. You go back home very fulfilled and immersed...Marlene Silvestre
1) A non-refundable US$ 300.00 deposit is required upon reservations together with a photocopy of a passport (valid for 6 months from date of departure) and Pilgrim’s Profile plus the visa fee.
2) Full payment in U.S. dollars is required before ticketing but in no case shall it be later than thirty (30) days before departure date.
3) The following cancellation charges will apply:
> 45 days before departure date – US$ 500.00
> 30 days before departure date – 50% of the Tour Cost
> 20 days prior to departure date – Full tour cost will be forfeited.
> Admin fee US$200.00 for any visa denial.
BASIC TOUR COST DOES NOT INCLUDE: airport taxes, visa fees and documentation expenses, insurance, hospitalization and other medical expenses, tours and transportation during free periods, porterage of extra pieces of luggage in excess of maximum allocation (23 kgs), drinks, and beverages taken during meals, items of personal nature such as laundry, telephone, fax, room service, and other expenses not mentioned in the itinerary terms and conditions.
THE PILGRIMS’ CENTER – EXECUTIVE RESOURCES, INC. has arranged for the various tour services to be performed under the responsibility of various contractors. Executive Resources, Inc., its employees or its subagents therefore only act as agents for the contractors providing the various services described in the tour and accept no responsibility or liability in connection with losses or accidental expenses due to delays of schedule, overbooking, defaults or “force majeure.” All tours and arrangements are subject to the general conditions specified by each contractor. Tour itineraries and prices are subject to change without prior notice. When making a tour booking, the passenger acknowledges and accepts the foregoing conditions.
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