Dan and Monica Stabile once again proved that moss never grows under their feet. Dan is one of Bishop O'Connell's 11th and 12th grade counselors, and Monica is a long-time German teacher in the world languages department. This year's summer adventure took them on a five-week journey through Germany, the Czech Republic, France and Italy, including stops at some of their favorite, often-visited places, such as Munich and the Alps, Monica's ancestral city of Bamberg, and the Moselle Valley.
We thank Monica for sharing the following highlights with us:
As global citizens, we set out to increase our awareness of the cultural components of each country and region. Border checks are gone, but each place visited had unique characteristics. As ambassadors for the US, we engaged in many conversations with relatives and old and new friends about their political systems, religious constructs, and social and economic systems. There is concern about American political policy and support of Europe, namely NATO, climate change, trade issues and security issues. While visiting schools, we learned that Europe's challenges are common with the US with misuse of social media and drug abuse on the rise. There is an increase in church attendance among young men and women. This is attributed to the pastoral leadership style of Pope Frances as he is referred to as "the peoples' Pope."
There is always a spiritual pilgrimage component to our trips and 32 churches were visited. We attended mass at the Regensburg Dom and heard its world-famous boys choir sing, stood in amazement below the Chagal window in Metz, France and walked through the splendor of the Vatican's St. Peter. High on a hill, overlooking the beautiful Moselle valley, we found a pilgrimage church. At the altar was an open book with a prayer for visitors. The prayer asked to find strengthened faith and hope and to carry it back to families, friends and the workplace.
Highlights and new experiences included the magnificence of the German Alps, visiting the city of Karlsruhe where we met in 1976, driving through the battlefields of Verdun, touring the Pilsner Urquell brewery in the Czech Republic, and purchasing antique religious art in Munich and Rome.
After returning our rental car at the Munich airport, we extended our layover in Rome to a week in the true Roman neighborhood of Trastevere (across the Tiber). There we immersed ourselves into the daily activities of the Italian lifestyle. We ate at small, family-run restaurants and explored the tiny streets. Dan took his daily morning walk to St. Peter's square. Rome was experiencing a drought and there was much talk of water-rationing. Some fountains were dry. After revisiting the Vatican museums, the Pantheon, the Borghese Gallery, Piazza Navonna and the Trevi Fountain, we agree: the Eternal City is our eternal favorite.
Photos - (Above) Dan and Monica at the top of the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany. (Below) Dan and Monica visiting the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome; and Monica at the Fuggerei Settlement in Augsburg, Germany, the oldest social housing complex in the world that is still in operation today. It dates back to the 14th century. Find out more about this interesting walled village at http://www.fugger.de/en/fuggerei.html.