I’ve posted some stories in previous columns about WINE – Women In the New Evangelization – often linking to the WINE website or Facebook pages. WINE was founded by my wonderful friend and fellow writer, Kelly Wahlquist. The group had its first Wine and Shrine pilgrimage to Italy last summer, with the special added attraction and presence of Teresa Tomeo, and the second pilgrimage with the same cast will be this coming November. The highlights of our travels in 2016 were the shrines of some of the world’s most famous women saints – Catherine of Siena, Clare of Assisi and Rita of Cascia, to name but a few. The 2017 pilgrimage promises us all that, and much more!

Kelly and Teresa and I were delighted when we saw the following piece by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia in CatholicPhilly.com.   I’ve added just a handful of photos from the 2016 pilgrimage.


Last year’s WINE conference for women was an overwhelming success. Archbishop Chaput asks women to invite a friend to this year’s gathering in October and learn why a woman’s gift for relationship is the foundation for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. • Posted August 3, 2017

When an event sells out five weeks in advance with 300 people on a waiting list, it’s safe to conclude a few things.  First, the event matters.  Second, it’s meeting a serious need. Third, the topic greatly interests its intended audience.

This is exactly what happened with last year’s Archdiocesan Catholic Women’s Conference at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pa.  I was pleased to celebrate the opening Mass with more than 1,200 women from around the Archdiocese in three different languages – English, Spanish, and American Sign Language. The Liturgy was standing room only.

Sunset in Assisi

At a time when some claim that the only way to be pro-woman is to advocate for contraceptive and abortion “rights,” Catholic women came together for a different kind of movement – a movement that seeks to promote women not by stealing from them what makes them women, but by honoring precisely those things that make women who they are.

Kelly –

The reason why so many Catholic women travelled early in the morning to gather at a Shrine hidden in rural Pennsylvania was to hear the affirming message of the feminine genius; that is, the particular gifts that God gives to women for outreach to the world. Contrary to secular assumptions, these women wanted to hear what the Church teaches about women. And they spent the day enjoying the strong bonds of Catholic sisterhood that inevitably flow from being rooted in the truth.

Live with Teresa Tomeo on Catholic Connection

Fast forward to now.  This year, on October 21, Philadelphia will be the host diocese for the first-ever National Catholic Women’s Conference, inspired by the new Catholic women’s ministry WINE: Women In the New Evangelization.  WINE is an effort that recognizes women’s central role in the mission of the Church to proclaim Jesus Christ to every part of the world.  WINE understands that women are uniquely positioned to play a leading role in this work of evangelization.  Woman has a particular “aptness” for the new evangelization because of her unique capacity for relationship, a gift that many men would do well to learn more deeply.


Body of St. Rita –

In Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), he speaks about the Church’s need to cultivate the “art of accompaniment” in all our efforts (EG 169-173). He reminds us that a person’s encounter with the saving words of Jesus Christ doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Rather, conversion comes about through a person-to-person relationship between the hearer and a loving Christian who walks with him or her and gradually shares God’s truth over time and as the hearer is ready to hear it.  This fundamentally relational dimension of evangelization is what makes women so especially apt for the task.

After all, this is a WINE pilgrimage!

I hope that this year, like last year, women across the region will pack the Shrine to standing room only for the WINE National Catholic Women’s Conference. While the event is for all Catholic women, it’s designed especially for those who might not yet have experienced the great love of Jesus Christ and the beauty of the Catholic faith.  So I ask women of the Archdiocese to be courageous:  Invite at least one friend or family member who’s been away from her faith to come to the conference with you.

The conference will take place on Saturday, October 21, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. You’ll hear from nationally renowned and compelling Catholic speakers. You’ll pray. You’ll share wonderful friendship and support.  Most of all, you’ll come into closer and richer contact with the personal love of Jesus Christ.  I look forward to seeing you there.


Learn more and register for the WINE National Catholic Women’s Conference at wineconference.org.



Julie Kenney was one amazing person on the WINE pilgrimage (Women In the New Evangelization), a young lady who touched every heart and soul during our time together in Italy. This was posted on the WINE website’s section entitled “Journey With Us” and I had to share this you. Many of you will have made her same journey in Rome and will well understand her words, her prayers, her emotions. Thank you, Julie, for adding so much to our lives! Know we are praying for you, your Mom and your sister!


by Julie E. Kenney

People have been asking me what was my favorite part of visiting Italy. There were so many spectacular, first time or once in a lifetime moments that make it so hard to choose only one. The rolling hills in wine country of Siena were gorgeous. The intensely vivid colors of St. Francis of Assisi’s Basilica were breath-taking. The seemingly immense undertaking of the Holy Stairs was humbling and painful but oh, so worth every moment! St. Rita’s Basilica was inspiring and motivating, while St. Monica’s tomb was heartfelt and so meaningful to me personally. But none of those moments are THE moment I would choose as my absolute favorite.

My favorite moment in Italy came unexpectedly, in the midst of 101 degree heat and humidity with sweat rolling down my face and soaking the back of my shirt. My most memorable moment came when our small, but mighty, group of 30 women on a WINE (Women In the New Evangelization) and Shrine pilgrimage in Italy stopped traffic in Rome by carrying a heavy, six-foot tall, wooden cross through the streets of the piazza, up the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, through the Holy Door, and straight to the Rock upon which our church was built.

Sometimes in my life I’ve found myself internally ashamed by my shyness about my faith. I would think to myself, it’s my own personal journey; I have every right to keep it to myself. I often wouldn’t even make the sign of the cross before meals in public but instead offer a silent prayer to God thanking him for my food, thinking it would be awkward if people saw me say grace. At the same time I would admire those that had the courage to do this and wonder to myself what was my problem?

When our group carried that cross through the streets of Rome and over the threshold of the Holy Doors into St. Peter’s people actually stopped and took our picture! Cars stopped in their traffic lanes and let us pass by them without honking. We prayed our way straight through to St. Peter’s tomb and the emotions that each of us were overcome with were powerful, inspiring, and uplifting, all at the same time. Carrying that cross felt like the weight of the world was on our shoulders as the sun beat down. As the sweat poured out of us, we could sense the burden of our suffering and the meaning that was wrapped up within it. We each carried that cross for our own sins, the burdens of our friends and family members that weren’t with us or able to carry that cross, for each member in the world that might not realize they should be carrying the cross, and also as a thank you to Jesus because he carried the ultimate cross for all of us.

During those moments while we prayed, people were respectful and honored our passage.  It made me realize that the world needs God, right out there in the open, in front of our eyes, for all of us to see. When I am silent with my grace before meals or when we hesitate to be totally truthful with others about our pro-life stance or our basic beliefs about the importance of a unified, traditional family structure we are doing the world—and God—a huge disservice.

The world is crying out to see and hear God. The evidence is there and we cannot afford to fool ourselves into thinking that someone else will stand up for our beliefs any longer. My favorite part of Italy hammered that point home to me. Each of us, quite literally, has to pick up our cross, share it with the world, and allow the crazy flow of traffic to stop and take notice.


**While in Assisi (prior to the day “carrying the cross”), Julie was on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo. Julie gave her heart-moving testimony of the cross she carried on her road to this pilgrimage and she spoke of the joy she experienced when she asked and allowed Jesus to bear the weight of her cross with her. To hear the interview, simply click here -> Catholic Connection: June 20, 2016


Good heavens, a new month – again! And we are just days away from July 4th and, as I say below, I will be taking the day off – not something I do with any frequency! I have to prepare three segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy” for the coming week so that is probably how I will spend most of my “day off.”

UPDATE. As of Saturday  I have received well over 500 messages and emails for my birthday yesterday and they are still coming in! I was floored and delighted and filled with joy at the sentiments of love and friendship and caring and gratitude that everyone expressed. I felt so blessed and special. I feel I am awash in prayers and blessings, and I’ll use them bit by bit, each day of my new year, trying to live up to your expectations and my goals.

Thank you for the wishes from around the world in many languages! Thank you for the flowers and drawings and photos and poetic expressions – some were Biblical, some were Shakespeare and most were handwritten, heartfelt sentiments.

This was especially meaningful from my friend Mark:

“Watch over thy child, O Lord, as her days increase; bless and guide her wherever she may be. Strengthen her when she stands; comfort her when discouraged or sorrowful; raise her up if she fall; and in her heart may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of her life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

To all who shared a birthday with me, I share that beautiful prayer!


The Holy Father’s universal prayer intention for July is: “That indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect.”

His mission intention is: “That the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, by means of her mission to the continent, may announce the Gospel with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.”


Welcome to Vatican Insider on this long July 4th weekend. Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! I’ll be taking this day off, joining my EWTN colleagues in saluting our nation on its 240th birthday!

My special guests this week in the interview segment are two very special people and special friends – Kelly Wahlquist of WINE – Women in the New Evangelization – and Teresa Tomeo. We talk about our recent pilgrimage in Italy to discover the country’s beautiful women saints! You’ll feel like you are overhearing a wonderful converation between three friends! Lots of fun and wonderful insights!


As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=



Pope Francis is in Armenia for a three-day visit and you can follow coverage of that on EWTN television, on our news pages at ewtn.com and also via periodic radio reports from Armenia.

June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist, is celebrated in a big way in Rome, and is the onomastico, the name day, of all those named John (of Joan!). For many individuals and families in Italy, the name day is a bigger celebration that the birthday. After all, we got our name at our baptism! As Pope Francis often asks: Do you know when you were baptized?


It has been a wonderful first full day in Rome after a period of travel. I finally slept more than five hours and that alone was a gift from heaven! I spent late morning and early afternoon preparing this week’s edition of my EWTN radio program “Vatican Insider. I then went to the Rome office of CNA/EWTN/ news to be on Teresa Tomeo’s program, “Catholic Connection.” Immediately afterwards I walked (in 96 degree weather) about five blocks to LUMSA, a Catholic University with some offices near the Vatican to join my friends who organized the Kairos Forum conference in co-sponsorship with the Pontifical Council for Culture. The theme this year is “Living Fully 2016: Disability, Culture and Faith, a Celebration.”

Speaking of the Kairos Forum and conference, my guest this weekend on VATICAN INSIDER is CRISTINA GANGEMI, a disability advisor to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, and director of the Kairos Forum that seeks to highlight and respond to the spiritual and religious needs of people with disabilities. As I said, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture is co- sponsoring with Kairos this academic symposium and conference entitled, LIVING FULLY 2016 whose aim is to celebrate the lives and stories of disabled people within culture and faith. Cristina will tell us all about Kairos and the Vatican conference.



When I arrived at LUMSA I saw Cristina’s son Gianluca who was an intern for five months with EWTN, during which time he was the producer for my twice weekly segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy.” Here’s the shirt he was wearing


Linda and Jack Del Rio (coach of the Oakland Raiders) are very supportive of Kairos and provided the conference workers and volunteers with a number of these shirts.


Here’s a link to the Living Fully 2016 website, with press releases, speakers, etc.: http://www.livingfully2016.com/

How to listen to VATICAN INSIDER: In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. In the U.S. or 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30 am and 10 pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

As I write, I await a text message from the WINE group about possibly joining some of them for dinner in Trastevere. If not, the Kairos group invited me to join them at 8:30 at La Scaletta!


Below is a link to a column posted yesterday by Kelly Wahlquist, founder of WINE, Women in the New Evangelization, and co-leader of the WINE pilgrimage to Italy, along with Teresa Tomeo. I was with the group for most of their stay in Umbria and we arrived Rome on Wednesday evening after a day spent with St. Rita in Cascia.

Following a somewhat late dinner Kelly, Teresa and I sought a place in the hotel to start writing our daily posts together. Hotel wifi presented a few issues and Kelly seemed to have the worst luck, as you will read below. I, of course, returned home and solved the wifi issue there! As you will see, at the end of her piece, entitled Journey through Italy “virtually” impossible, Kelly also gives links to columns posted by Teresa and me. http://www.winepilgrimages.com/journey-with-us/





Very late Tuesday evening I posted a brief note about my second full day in Umbria with the wonderful women of WINE, noting that I had risen at 5:30 am and, after our early morning departure for Siena and points beyond, arrived back at my Assisi hotel at 11:30 pm, too devoid of both time and energy to write about what I called “The Day the Lord Made.

I hope to finally bring that day to life for you.

Interspersed throughout this column are some of the photos I took in Siena and, if time allows, I’ll create a slideshow of the beauties of the Umbrian countryside as we drove to the wine country of Montalcino and the Banfi winery estates (the larges continuous private estate in Europe, according to our guide). If not today, tomorrow.

(A word about the larger photos at the end. They came in an email from Sharon Wilson and I love the size. I have not yet found a way to make the photos that I have downloaded from my camera a larger size)


WINE, as you may know by now, is Women In the New Evangelization. Twenty-five women joined Kelly Wahlquist, WINE founder, and Teresa Tomeo and me for this first-ever WINE trip to Italy to explore the great and glorious women saints of this beautiful land. My role in this pilgrimage was principally the first part of the itinerary – the Umbrian days of Assisi, Siena, Norcia, Montalcino and Cascia – although I’ll have some encounters with the group in Rome.

The basilica of St. Dominic in Siena – the head of St. Catherine is enshrined here – no photos allowed. I had already taken a picture of this stained glass window before I knew that:


I’ve had a chance for personal encounters with some of the women as we journey on the bus through Umbria, walk through the medieval home towns of saints we know and love or dine together on exquisite dishes from Umbria – homemade pastas, wild boar as a main course or fettucine sauce, porchetta, and gorgeous fresh vegetables and fruits. And, of course, delicious wines, including a wine-tasting lunch in Montalcino after our visit to Siena.



I am overwhelmed with the beauty of the spirit and character of the women I have met from Nebraska, Minnesota, Florida and points beyond. As stories were told, I heard and saw women of immense faith, women who are, want to be and will be in the forefront of the new evangelization, in ways large and small, in their families, hometowns and perhaps even well beyond.


I have walked and dined with women of courage. Some had heartbreaking stories. Many have led fairly average lives with the usual highs and lows, the joys and sorrows of married life or single life. Some had had spiritual crises, were away from the faith and then returned with a vengeance, with a renewed spiritual fire. Others never lost that fire.

St. Catherine was one of 24 children, the daughter of a dyer. They lived in a very large house. These photos were taken in the inner courtyard:



20160621_113857 20160621_113851

There were two common denominators in all stories: faith and joy.

The chapel in which St. Catherine took her vows.


After all, as was noted in several conversations, St. Paul has exhorted us to always be able to explain the reasons for our joy, our hope, our acceptance of suffering. In fact, he told Romans in 5: 3-5: “… but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

These three pictures depict what was once the kitchen of this large house:




Joy and laughter and sharing with a smile – these were always on the faces of the women, wherever we were, on the bus, in restaurants, in a church.

The outside of the house in which St. Catherine grew up:


We prayed the rosary on the bus, we sang hymns (and many other songs), and we sang grace before meals one night as we enjoyed a picnic supper one night on the terrace of Grand Hotel in Assisi. (see video) As we watched the sun set over Assisi, we listened to reflections by Kelly and also interspersed her thoughts with some of our own.

And this is what the women of WINE did each day. Each of us became stronger in our own faith because each of us was re-affirmed by the others.

What set Tuesday apart for 8 of us was the dinner we had at Mangiar Di Vino in Assisi, after a glorious day in Siena. The bus was to return to the hotel where most of the gals were staying in the hillside above Assisi. I wanted to return to my hotel in the center of Assisi and had planned on dining alone and then packing for our departure the next day but 5 of the women (we were late joined by two others) on the bus decided they too wanted to spent a last night in Assisi, not at the hotel.

The WINE bus left us off at a small square where we got a small city bus (a separate story if I had time to tell!) to another square from which it was a four-minute downhill (a VERY important word in Assisi, Siena and Cascia) walk to the main Assisi square and the nearby restaurant.

We lucked out as there was a table for 6 on the small terrace – it was a lovely night and we wanted to eat outdoors. The first thing we noted as we sat down was our paper placemats. They had a design that looked like it was created by children and soon we noted the drawings were of chalices and there was the Holy Spirit nin the upper left corned and then the words, in Italian and English “I am the Vine, you are the branches, whoever remains in me….”

How beautiful! Can you imagine such a thing happening in the U.S., unless it was in a Catholic home or a church rectory?! There is a story behind the mats which I intend to discover and share with you. Our waitress gave each one of a new placemat to take home!

Unexpectedly, two more of the WINE women, Jody and Kelly, found us at Mangiar Di Vino and sat near but not at our table as there was no more room. They, however, sat next to a couple (he was Italian, she was Russian) and began an animated conversation that lasted throughout dinner.

The name of the restaurant is more or less a play on words. Mangiar is from mangiare, to eat or dine and Di Vino can mean ‘divine’ or ‘of wine.’  Thus, Mangiar Di Vino (Eating Divinely) or ‘Dining and Wine.’

For us it was a divine experience.

The food was divine and the conversation ever so stimulating. We spoke of WINE, the Church, our faith, our personal journeys, how the Lord is calling each of us, and so much more.

Early in our meal, a priest and a nun arrived at the restaurant, eating indoors as there was no room on the small terrace. I greeted the priest in Italian and he responded. They finished their meal before we did and, as they exited the restaurant, the Father turned, looked at me for a few seconds and then said, slowly, with a smile, “EWTN….”

The gals all said ‘Yes’ in unison and one told me to ask him for a blessing. It turned out he was Spanish and so I asked in Spanish and he came to our table and gave the whole group a beautiful blessing in English.

Two strangers entered out lives and excited almost as quickly but left an indelible mark with each of us, as we commented then and throughout the day yesterday. (You can vaguely see them inside the restaurant in the group photo I posted)

It was now our turn to say to leave, to say “buona notte,” “sweet dreams,” and “see you tomorrow.”

It was then that I noticed the floor mat next to our table:

Today was indeed “A Day the Lord Made”