206 Tours Celebrating 33 Years!
In 1983, Milanka Lachman was working for Yugoslav Airlines when she received several calls from people asking for help arranging travel to Medjugorje to witness the Marian Apparitions there. She could hear in their voices that these people felt called to make this Pilgrimage and felt suddenly strongly compelled to help them get there. She gave these clients her personal home phone number fearing she could be fired by her Communist superiors if she were heard discussing Medjugorje.

Though it was a difficult task, Milanka accepted the challenge and arranged a non-stop PanAm flight to Dubrovnik, secured hotel space, and organized for a driver. At the time, Medjugorje was a small village of only 300 people who were opening their doors and sharing meals with Pilgrims free of charge. Milanka was so moved by her first Pilgrimage experience that she felt called to dedicate her life to facilitating the act Pilgrimage for other Catholics, and 206 Tours was born.

In October of 1985, in a small town on Long Island, Milanka set out to create her company. At just 27 years old, she was a single mother of two with little experience in the travel industry, no money, no family, no clergy connections, and no support. Milanka approached the task with Faith, knowing that God would help her in her mission to help others answer His call of Pilgrimage.

Thirty-three (33) years later, 206 Tours has grown into one of the country’s leading Pilgrimage operators facilitating over 300,000 Pilgrimages to 28 countries all over the world. Every Pilgrimage is accompanied by a Catholic Spiritual Director who says Mass and is available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation daily. With hundreds of regularly schedules departures and the ability to create one of a kind custom group pilgrimages, 206 Tours helps Catholics to deepen their relationship with God.
Of the 300,000 Pilgrimages completed, 63,000 of those have been free of charge. Tens of thousands of lives have been changed through Pilgrimage with 206 Tours, and hundreds of people have been called into Priesthood or experienced vocation callings. The Holy Father has noted that, “Pilgrimage is one of the most eloquent expressions of the faith of God’s people” and 206 Tours also understands that the call to service and charity is also one that will deepen Catholic Faith. Holding charity and service as a core value, 206 Tours have been blessed to be able to support many Catholic charities in the 33 years, helping to grow the Catholic community not only on Long Island, but also all over the world. Learn more about how 206 Tours gives back here. 
In 33 years, the 206 Tours family has seen firsthand, and learned the importance of Pilgrimage and how it can completely transform lives. While on Pilgrimage, deep and long-lasting friendships and connections are often made, faith is renewed and revived, and life takes on a new meaning.
In the years to come, 206 Tours aims to make Pilgrimage even more accessible to the Catholic community, maintaining the originally goal of helping others to experience Pilgrimage. The strength and perseverance of 206 Tours is attributed to the strong network of employees, partners, clergy and pilgrims around the world who are keeping the act of Pilgrimage alive and of course all credit and Glory to God, as without Him, the last 33 years would not have been possible.

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206 Tours Pilgrimage to the Holy Land Jim Caviezel John Michael Talbot

John Michael Talbot has become a household name to millions of Catholics due to his extensive artistic, musical, and humanitarian career. For decades, John Michael has been creating in the Catholic space, sharing his art as well as his message travelling from Parish to Parish. Here is a deeper look into the life, work, and service of this Christian Music legend.

John Michael Talbot was born into a Methodist family in Oklahoma City in 1954. Music had always been a large part of John Michael’s life, so much so that he dropped out of school and formed a country folk-rock band with his brother as a teenager. After several successful albums and years of touring, the band separated, and John Michael began a spiritual journey that ultimately led him to Christian Music.

John Michael became a Roman Catholic in 1978 while studying at the Franciscan center in Indianapolis, deeply inspired by St. Francis of Assisi. He founded an integrated monastic community of celibate men, woman, and families called Brothers and Sisters of Charity in 1980. He is currently the Minister General and Spiritual Father for the Brothers and Sisters of Charity in both Little Portion Hermitage in Arkansas and St. Clare’s Monastery in Texas.

After years of continued success in the world of Christian Music, John Michael founded his own record label, “Troubadour for the Lord” in 1992. He is currently regarded as Catholic music’s most popular artist. In his 37 years in the music industry, his latest album is his 53rd, contributing to the over 4 million records sales worldwide.

Click to watch a live performance from 2001

In addition to his extensive music career, John Michael had authored over 24 published books. In 2014, John Michael added the world of television to his creative resume with the highly acclaimed inspirational show called, “All Things Are Possible”, which ran for three seasons.

John Michael Talbot is uniquely creative, which makes his message deeply inspiring and motivational. At 64 years old, he is extremely active in traveling to parishes and spreading his message, like a modern-day St. Francis with the goal of renewing and reviving faith. His presence is in high demand as he is a powerful speaker, often invited to speak at Churches, and events – in addition to his busy touring concert schedule.

Next Spring, John Michael will travel to the Holy Land with fellow artistic Catholic Actor, Jim Caviezel. Pilgrims will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk in Jesus’s footsteps alongside John Michael and Jim. John Michael will be sharing his musical talents throughout what is sure to be an unforgettable Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Limited spots remain, don’t miss out on this amazing trip!

 Watch John Michael’s Personal Invitation to join him in the Holy Land!

Click Here to Register

206 Tours Pilgrimage to the Holy Land Jim Caviezel John Michael Talbot

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206 Tours | VIDEO DIARY | A Day in the Life of A Pilgrim, Fr. Peter Dugandzic documenting his pilgrimage in Portugal, Fatima, Spain, Lourdes, and Paris.

One of our very talented Spiritual Directors, Father Peter Dugandzic, recently led a 206 Tours Pilgrimage to Fatima, Spain, Lourdes & Paris. He has been extremely gracious in taking the time to document his journey in a Video Diary – which we are happy to share with you! Click to watch the videos below, get a glimpse into what a 206 Tours Marian Pilgrimage is about, and to feel as though you are right alongside Fr. Peter in Portugal, Spain, and France!

Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon
The group begins their Marian Pilgrimage in Lisbon, Portugal. Of all the things to see in Lisbon, the birthplace of St. Anthony of Padua is the most important. The group celebrated daily Mass at the Church that was built on the place where St. Anthony was born. 

Day 2: Santarem & Fatima

The group celebrated Holy Mass in Santarem, at the Church of St. Stephen where a 13thcentury Eucharistic miracle occurred – before heading to the Shrine in Fatima. In Fatima, they visited the Hamlet of Aljustrel, the home of the three (3) shepherd children who witnessed Our Blessed Mother’s apparitions.  After dinner, they joined the Rosary and Procession at the Shrine.

Day 3: Fatima
In the morning, the group celebrated Holy Mass at the Chapel of the Angel of Peace (Little Chapel of Apparitions) in Fatima before touring the Shrine, and learning about the miracle that happened more than 100 years ago. After lunch, the group did the Stations of the Cross. The path for the Stations is the same route the children took from their homes to where they tended their flock, and where they saw the Blessed Mother.

Day 4: Salamanca – Alba de Tormes – Avila – Burgos

On this day, the group journeyed to Salamanca – a beautiful University city with an old and new Cathedral. They embarked on a walking tour which concluded with Holy Mass in St. Martin’s Church. As part of our celebration, Fr. Peter blessed Pilgrims – George and Sandra – on their 32nd Wedding Anniversary!

Day 5: Avila
After departing from Salamanca, the group made their way to the village of Alba de Tormes, the place where Saint Teresa of Avila founded the Carmelite Monastery in 1571. While there, they celebrated Holy Mass, and had an opportunity to venerate St. Teresa’s remains. They continued to Avila to pray in the chapel where St. Teresa was born, and enjoyed the well preserved – and beautiful – 11th century architecture of the city.

Day 6: Loyola and Lourdes
On this day, the group traveled to Loyola, the birthplace of St. Ignatius – and had the opportunity to visit his home,  as well as celebrate Holy Mass in the room where he underwent his conversion. They proceeded to Lourdes, with a remarkable view of the Pyrenees Mountains. After dinner, they walked to the Shrine for the spectacular Rosary Procession.

Day 7 & 8: Lourdes
After Holy Mass at the Chapel of St. Gabriel, the group toured the city of Lourdes and the holy places from the life of St. Bernadette. Some of those sites include Boly Mill where she was born, the Grotto of Massbielle where Our Lady first appeared to her in 1858, the miraculous spring that has cured many, and the healing baths. The group then joined the Eucharistic procession where there is a special blessing for all the sick and infirm – here Fr. Peter said a special prayer for all of us!

On this day Father Peter was asked to be the main celebrant for Mass in the Grotto, and a few of our 206 Tours Pilgrims served as Lectors. After Mass, the group walked the Stations of the Cross – which are uniquely carved into a mountain with life-sized figures featured in the Stations. The group offered a special prayer at the 12th Station. 
Day 9: Paris & Lisieux
The group left Lourdes to fly to Paris where the celebrated Mass at the famous Basilica, Sacre Coeur, which translated means, “Sacred Heart”. The Basilica sits atop Montmartre Hill with a stunning panoramic view overlooking Paris.  

Day 10: Lisieux
In Lisieux, the group visited the Basilica of St. Therese, and admired the magnificent mosaics and stained glass within. St. Therese was also known as “The Little Flower” and called, “the greatest Saint of modern times” by Pope Pius X. The group had the opportunity to view relics of her family, tour the Carmelite Convent she attended, and see her childhood home, Les Buissonets. 
Normandy – Landing Beaches – American Cemetery 
The group then made their way to Normandy, the site of D-Day. Together they visited the Normandy American Cemetery, and Memorial to honor and pray for the many brave American soldiers who died on D-Day and in Europe during World War II. Watch Fr. Peter’s moving video from this experience. 
Day 11: Chartres
In Chartres, the group celebrated Holy Mass at the massive Cathedral Notre Dame. Here they observed the incredible stained-glass windows from the 12th and 13th century which is widely revered as one of the highest points of French Gothic Art.
Day 12: Paris
On the group’s final day of their Pilgrimage, they went to Rue de Bac and celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal – which holds the remains of St. Catherine Laboure. Then they toured the city of Paris, visiting the church of St. Vincent de Paul, returned to Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Eiffel Tower.

For fourteen (14) days, Father Peter and his fellow Pilgrims visited many holy sites, Shrines, and Churches in the experience of a lifetime. We thank Father Peter and his group of Pilgrims for giving us the opportunity to share in their experience through this wonderful video diary. 

To learn more about taking part in your own Marian Pilgrimage, view the full itinerary here:
For more videos like these, SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube page!

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Jim Caviezel Starring as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ to make Pilgrimage with 206 Tours
As Jim Caviezel prepares to make his way to Israel in 2019, and walk the true Via Dolorosa, let us take a look back at the role that set him apart – and one that he will reprise next year.
The making of the film, The Passion of the Christ, was so extraordinary and unusual that it has been the subject of countless articles, books, and even televised Specials. Much of what made the film so unique is the experiences that lead actor, Jim Caviezel who plays Jesus Christ, endured while filming the movie. Rather than regret taking the role, or looking back on his experience with contempt, Jim has widely been known to say the experience brought him closer to God and his Catholic Faith. Here are some interesting details about Jim’s experience acting in the highest grossing Independent film of all time.

1. Gibson offered him the role, then tried to talk him out of it

Mel Gibson Directed, Produced, and funded the entire film. When he originally set up a meeting with Caviezel, he said he wanted to discuss a film about a surfer as a ruse to get Jim to take the meeting. After presenting the idea of the film about the last hours of Christ’s life, and Jim accepted the offer, Gibson tried to change his mind.
At the 2018 SEEK Conference, Jim shared; “[Mel] said, ‘You’ll never work in this town again.” So I told him, ‘We all have to embrace our crosses’ … We have to give up our names, our reputations, our lives to speak the truth.”
Jim Caviezel Starring as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ to make Pilgrimage with 206 Tours

2. Jim had turned the role of Jesus down before

Jim was asked to portray Jesus twice before Gibson approached him – once for a Play, and once for a television Special. Both times, he immediately knew the roles were not right. When he heard Gibson’s pitch though, he knew the story would be told in a way he was proud to represent. He said he knew this version would show “the absolute fullness of the truth” of what Jesus endured in his last few hours, and that that was the only way he would ever portray Christ.

3. A headache of a make-up process

Most days, Jim needed to be on set by 2am to endure hours of make-up application. Gibson’s vision included making Jesus as realistic as possible for a man born in that region at that time. Jim wore a prosthetic nose and brown contacts – they even raised his hairline. For much of the filming, he wore make up that made it look like his eye was swollen shut, which effected his depth perception and vision, causing migraines. 
Jim Caviezel Starring as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ to make Pilgrimage with 206 Tours

4. Jim endured lots of physical ailments

While filming what has been recognized as one of the most graphic and violent films ever made, there was no shortage of real injury and pain – mainly suffered by the lead actor. In keeping with the goal of authenticity to the horrors suffered by Jesus, Jim was put in very precarious and potentially dangerous spots. He suffered scratches and bruises from the chains he wore and even dislocated his shoulder carrying the 150-pound cross, which was captured on film and kept in the movie. While filming the scene where Jesus delivers the Sermon on the Mount, Jim and the Assistant Director, Jan Michelini, both were struck by lightening just minutes apart. This was the second time Jan was struck during the project.
Jim hung on the cross in below freezing temperatures and strong wind, which almost caused hypothermia – leading to pneumonia and a lung infection. During the scourging scene, Jim was accidentally whipped twice by the two actors portraying Roman soldiers, one of the hits leaving a 14-inch gash in his back.

5. Through the pain, his Faith never wavered

During an interview on The Today Show, Jim shared how challenging making the film was for him. He shared how he turned to prayer when he was struggling, exhausted, overwhelmed, and doubtful. He said he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to handle the pain, or maintain the physical and emotional endurance needed to complete the film. Jim shared that he needed to listen to his heart rather than his head to get through the filming process.
As a devout Catholic, Jim felt the process forced him to become closer to God and his Faith. He said that when he was at his most doubtful, he turned to prayer;
“It forced me into the arms of God. That’s the only place I could go. That’s when God’s voice came to me. ‘Hey, don’t you worry about it. Let me take care of it, and will you allow me to use you to play?’ And that’s when I just said, All right, I’m going to let you perform, and I’m going to step out of the way.”
As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, in January of 2018, Jim confirmed the rumors that he would be reprising his role as Jesus Christ in Gibson’s upcoming sequel which is said to follow the three days after Jesus’s death and explore his Resurrection.
In April of 2019, Jim will be joining 206 Tours on a Special Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in preparation for the role. There are limited spots available, reserve your spot today! 

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206 Tours - What is a Relic Blog
Many Pilgrimage visit important Shrines that house Sacred Catholic Relics. Understanding the way relics are classified in the Catholic Church is important to fully appreciate these amazing pieces of our shared history and why they are so strongly venerated.
A Relic, in religious terms, usually refers to the physical remains or personal effects of a Saint or Holy person that have been saved and preserved in an official reliquary, also known as a Shrine.  The Catholic Church recognizes three classes of relics.

1. First-Class Relics

The most sacred class, a first-class relic refers to an item that is directly associated with the life of Jesus Christ. However, physical remains of a Saint’s body are also classified as first-class relics. In many cases, this type of first-class relic is entombed in an altar stone.
An example of a famous first-class relic can be found in Bethlehem in the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square. It is in the Grotto of the Nativity that you can see a relic of the original Manger at the place of Jesus’ birth – now marked by a star in the floor.

206 tours - relics blog - church of the nativity

Another example of a first-class relic is the incorrupt body of St. John Vianney, the patron Saint of Parish Priests, who’s remains are entombed above the main altar in the Basilica in Ars-sur-Formans in France. 

206 Tours - St. John Vianney - Relics Blog

206 Tours - St. John Vianney - Relics Blog

You can visit Ars on our Great Shrines of France Tour.

2. Second-Class Relics

A second-class relic is typically a personal belonging of a Saint or Holy person. In many cases, this is a piece of clothing or an object used by the Saint. The Latin term, “Ex indumentis”, meaning “from the clothing”, is often used when referring to a second-class Holy relic.
A famous example of a second-class relic is the chain that attached the Apostle Paul to the Roman solider while imprisoned in Rome, which is housed in the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. 

206 Tours - Relics Blog

206 Tours - Relics Blog

3. Third-Class Relics 

An object that has been touched to a first-class relic is classified as a third-class relic. Many Catholics will bring a Crucifix or Rosary to a shrine and touch it to the venerated relic, thereby making it a third-class relic. However, unlike first and second-class relics, third class relics will not be formally recognized with official documentation.

Traveler’s Tip: Third-Class Relics Make Great Gifts!

When traveling in the Holy Land, you can visit all of the sites, and in the order of the Gospel. You will have the opportunity to enter the Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, touch the Rock of Agony in the Church of All Nations, touch the star in the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity .. and many more. Bring extra Rosaries with you – and have them in hand when you touch each spot. This way, you can gift friends and family members with Third Class Relics when you return home!

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Many people may not fully understand the deeply personal and religious nature that is the act of pilgrimage. Taking a trip to Rome, Lourdes, or Medjugorje with your spouse, spiritual director, or parish may sound to some like an excuse to take a few days off from work to experience a new culture and try new foods. However, a pilgrimage is not a vacation.
Vacation is defined as, “a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity; usually used for rest, recreation or travel”.  On vacations, we relax, detach from our daily stressors, and treat ourselves to great foods, luxury, and fun activities.
Pilgrimage on the other hand has a much different meaning. A Pilgrimage is defined as, “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion; as to pay homage.” A Pilgrimage is not a time for detachment, rest, or pampering, but rather a time of deep reflection, modesty, and prayer.
In 2016, during the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis delivered a speech containing his thoughts on the act of Pilgrimage to a sea of thousands of pilgrims making their own pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Square. He said: 
“A Pilgrimage is not the same as a Vacation… Making a Pilgrimage to shrines is one of the most eloquent expressions of the faith of God’s people… It would be a mistake to think that those who go on a pilgrimage live a spirituality that is not personal but rather of the masses. The reality is that the pilgrim carries within him his own history and faith and the lights and shadows of his own life. Each person carries within his or her heart a special wish and a particular prayer. Those who enter the shrine immediately feel they are at home, welcomed, understood, and supported.”

Clearly a Pilgrimage is not a “break” from responsibilities like a vacation is – rather it is a calling. It reminds us of our responsibility to our faith as disciples of Jesus. On a Pilgrimage, we encounter God in the very places where He has revealed himself. It can be a challenge – it can take us out of our comfort zone and incorporate tedious travel or navigating difficult terrain.  It is a transformational experience that changes lives, and brings us closer to our faith in ways we could never imagine through sincere and concentrated prayer.

To share your own experience of how Pilgrimage has changed your life, email us at jenny@206tours.com

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