Do not miss the interview segment this weekend on Vatican Insider when my guests tell you in riveting fashion the story of Lourdes Volunteers, part of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality – North American Volunteers.

Join my conversation with three members of this American apostolate, Lourdes Volunteers. I talk to Marlene Watkins who founded the volunteers in the Jubilee Year 2000 – she’s a wonderful storyteller! Joining Marlene is Fr. Rob Hyde of St. Margaret’s Church in Syracuse, NY, spiritual advisor to the Volunteers and Deacon Dan Revetto of Los Angeles, vice president of the Lourdes Volunteers. You will never forget his story of his first day of volunteering at the French Shrine!

Learn how to go to Lourdes as a volunteer – or as a patient if you have health issues. Learn how, if you are a medical professional, you can become part of the team that volunteers at this celebrated French shrine. You can learn by visiting

Here are Deacon Dan Revetto, Fr. Rob Hyde and Marlene Watkins –

The rest of the team currently visiting Rome –

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

February 23-24 Vatican Insider:


FROM ALETEIA: Many religious orders offer rooms to tourists in their beautiful centuries-old buildings, located within walking distance of the sites of Rome. It’s a best-kept secret of many a frequent traveler to Rome: staying at a monastery or convent is an affordable, unique way to visit the Eternal City.

Following the tradition of hospitality that religious orders have carried out for over 1,500 years, monks and nuns in monasteries and convent houses in Rome offer bed-and-breakfast style lodging to tourists and pilgrims alike.

To learn more:

PS – Convents and Monasteries can be found throughout Italy –perhaps some of this beautiful nation’s best kept secrets. More on those treasures in a future post!


If you will be in Rome on December 12, try to get tickets for a Mass that Pope Francis will celebrate in St. Peter’s Basilica at 6 pm that day, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I am sure you know there are several ways to request tickets for papal events at the Vatican (pass this info on to friends and relatives): 1. contact the Prefecture of the Papal Household (; 2: The Pontifical North American College where you will have a delightful experience when you pick up the tickets at the Casa Santa Maria, Via dell’Umiltà, 30 (there is a ton of info on their site:


Speaking to members of FOCSIV, an International Federation of Christian Voluntary Workers whom he received in audience on the vigil of International Volunteer Day (December 5), the Pope says voluntary workers offer an image of a Church that rolls up its shirt sleeves and bows to serve its brothers and sisters in difficulty.


Pointing out the fact that poverty must never be an occasion for someone else’s gain, the Pope invited voluntary workers to persevere on their unselfish path.  He notes the changing face of poverty in a world in which – the Pope said – the poor themselves want to become protagonists of their lives putting into practice solidarity amongst those who suffer. He told the volunteers that they are called to take notice of the signs of the times and to become instruments at the service of the activism of the poor. Solidarity, he said, is a way to make history together with the poor, turning away from alleged altruistic works that reduce the other to passivity.


The Pope points to an economic system that ransacks nature as one of the main causes of poverty. Mentioning deforestation, environmental catastrophes and the loss of biodiversity in particular, Pope Francis says it is necessary to remember that creation is not “property of which we can dispose of to our benefit, and less still is it the property of few”. Creation – he says – is “a wonderful gift that God has given us to take care of and utilize for the benefit of all, with respect”. And he encouraged volunteers to continue in their commitment “to safeguard creation so that we can hand it over to future generation in all of its beauty”.


Other causes of poverty the Pope singles out are tied to “the scandal of war”. He says that working for development, volunteers cooperate in the making of peace and the building of bridges between cultures and religions.

He says that even in the most difficult situations voluntary workers are sustained by their faith; he says their presence and their activities in refugees camps are a tangible sign of hope for so many people in the world who “fleeing from the horrors of war, or persecuted for their faith, are forced to abandon their homes, their places of prayer, their lands, their dear ones! How many broken lives! How much pain and destruction!” Before all of this – Pope Francis says – “the disciple of Christ does not turn the other way, but tries to take some of the burden from suffering people with his closeness and evangelical welcome”.


Finally the Pope turns his thoughts to migrants and refugees who attempt to leave harsh conditions of life and dangerous situations behind them. And pointing to the necessary collaboration of all: institutions, NGOs and ecclesial communities to promote new policies and measures for peaceful cohabitation, he calls on the commitment of States to effectively manage and regulate these phenomenona.

The Pope’s message comes on International Volunteer Day during which an annual Prize is awarded. This year the Award went to Maria Luisa Cortinovis: wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and missionary. She received the Prize during a ceremony held at Vatican Radio. (Source: Vatican Radio)