Announcing WINE & Shrine Women's Pilgrimage through Italy, November 14-23, 2019

Join us for our 4th annual WINE & Shrine women's pilgrimage through Italy. Kelly Wahlquist and Teresa Tomeo will be leading a pilgrimage following in the footsteps of some amazing female Italian saints in November 2019. This is an excellent time to take that trip you've always want to take Italy with your mom, daughter, sister, friends, etc... and at the same time make an amazing pilgrimage that will ignite your spiritual life and set you on fire to live your faith with renewed confidence, with conviction and hope!

Pray about it and tell your friends about it! Start planning today!

Itinerary and registration form coming soon!

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The Pilgrimage Continues: In the paper, in the book & in the Big Easy

It's hard to believe it's been almost two months since we set off on a pilgrimage to walk with our sisters—the saints and the saints in the making! There are so many moments throughout my day that conjure memories that instantly bring me back to Italy and our WINE & Shrine Pilgrimage. (Skyping a daughter in Italy is one!)

For some reason, I can't stop talking about our pilgrimage! Well, actually, there is one reason I continue to share our experience; wherever I go, someone always asked me about it! That question is always followed by, "When is the next one?" (The answer is November 2017... details to follow.) This week, I have been bombarded with that question, and with good reason. A wonderful article came out in the Catholic Spirit. Be sure to check it out! The article (For pilgrims, Italy’s female saints show faith’s history, beauty and depth) features Mary and Maddie Fox and has a lot of people talk'n WINE & Shrine! Well done Mary & Maddie!

I've also been blessed to be in contact with many of the pilgrims, those in Minnesota and those around the country. I was thrilled to have Julie come visit me while I was giving a retreat in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend, and I was excited to learn that she will be at the New Orlean's WINE: Catholic Women's Conference on October 15! In fact, there will be a "bunch" of us there, so I want to invite you to join us. We have a great deal on hotel rooms, and it would be fun to have a mini WINE & Shrine Reunion in the Big Easy! Check out the link, and register today: New Orleans WINE: Catholic Women's Conference.

EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE: Our book, Walk in Her Sandals, is available for pre-order. There is a Special Pre-order Price for friends of WINE! Simply go to and use the code SANDALS. If you're in New Orleans in October, you'll probably see about 7 of the 10 authors!

Hope to see you all in New Orleans! Miss you all and keeping you in prayer!




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Carrying the Cross

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

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Thank You for Walking with Us


Thank you so much for joining us as we walked in the footsteps of some amazing Italian female saints on our journey into a deeper relationship with the Lord.

10 days ago, we set out to enter more fully into the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy by embarking on a pilgrimage. As we look back upon our time together, it is truly evident that the Lord greatly blessed our efforts and showered us abundantly with His extraordinary mercy—more than we could have ever imagined possible.

A pilgrimage, by definition, is an expedition, a mission, a journey. It is a voyage one undertakes in an effort to grow spiritually. There is a reason those descriptive words don't imply vacation, leisurely time away or holiday, because, simply put, a pilgrimage is work. A pilgrimage involves struggle, sacrifice, patience and perseverance. But when that struggle, sacrifice, patience and perseverance is drenched in prayer and unity, graces flow and spiritual growth abounds. That's what happened for all of us who were part of the WINE & Shrine Women's Pilgrimage to Italy—we encountered many opportunities to be merciful and to trust completely in the Lord—and each time we said "yes", each time we gave our fiat (Be it done unto me), we were showered with His amazing grace!

On our pilgrimage, 28 women from 10 states, 2 countries and all walks of life, came together to grow closer to God. In doing so, we battled the elements, had our patience tested, our spirit strained and our tenacity tried. We fought through long exhausting days and short sleepless nights. We struggled with physical aches and pains and experienced emotional turmoil, each of us carrying our own cross. But the beauty of it all is that we did it not as 28 individuals, but as one. Through your selfless giving, we became the body of Christ in action. 

I commend you all for shining with the gifts St. John Paul the Great described when he spoke of our Feminine Genius. From the beginning, you were all very open to receiving one another. It didn't matter where anyone was on her spiritual journey, each of you opened your arms to welcome another. Within just moments after meeting, you embraced the stories of one another receiving them with compassion.

Your sensitivity was noticeable, as a corner of an umbrella was offered in Assisi, an essential oil provided to ease an upset stomach on the bus, or a Kleenex handed to wipe away the tears that accompanied the heartfelt conversations.

The beauty of your generosity at the "sunset soiree" was as stunning as the sunset itself as each of you brought food to share, and (almost as if it was a well choreographed dance) each of you did your part in preparing, serving and cleaning up an impromptu meal. To top it off, prayer was offered in song and Scripture was shared in story. That evening as the sun set over a rooftop in Umbria, women entered into the new evangelization much like the apostles did 2,000 years ago:  "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42).

Thank you all for walking with us on this journey. I'm not sure words, or even all the pictures, could ever truly capture just how transformed we each were by the incredible graces that were showered upon us. For the next few weeks, as we go back to our daily lives, and as we go forward on this journey back to the heart of the Father, may we each carry with us those wonderful frozen moments from our pilgrimage together, moments that allowed us to struggle, sacrifice, be patient and persevere with joy!



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Journey through Italy "Virtually" Impossible

Sometimes the best plans are thwarted by things out of our control. And if you know me, you know I hate being bested by technology! I will exhaust myself, exploring every work-around solution and praying to every patron saint of any category remotely close to my dilemma— technology, communication, impossible causes, computers, phones, electricity, lost passwords, WiFi problems. (Now, that's a saint I need... the patron saint of problems connecting to WiFi!)

Perhaps God is teaching me a little lesson in connectivity. By making it seemingly impossible to connect to the Internet to share our WINE & Shrine travels, He just might be bringing me back to the roots of WINE, reminding me of some key aspects that blend together to make WINE... well, WINE: Women In the New Evangelization.

WINE is about building relationships with women with the ultimate goal of growing deeper in relationship with the Lord. WINE is about supporting, nurturing and encouraging women on their journey. WINE is about elevating women in their gifts to build up the body of Christ... and WINE is about not reinventing the wheel!

Thus, I believe the lesson in this virtual aspect of our journey is three-fold. First, beautiful relationships have sprung forth from this journey—relationships I truly believe will continue to grow long after our plane lands back in the states. Second, the nurturing, encouraging and supporting of one another is, to use a biblical wine term, over flowing! And third, and most important for this night as I struggle not to scream each time the WiFi bumps me off the network, I can build up the beautiful giftedness of my sisters in Christ and at the same time pat myself on the back for not re-inventing the wheel! 

Therefore, if you've missed journeying with us these past few days, I want to encourage you to read the following blogs by my very gifted and extremely awesome co-hosts, Teresa Tomeo and Joan Lewis. These women truly capture the spirit of the pilgrimage we have been on, and Praise God, they have been able to use the WiFi in their Vatican office to do so! 

(I'd love to post more pictures with this blog, but I've been bumped off the WiFi so many times trying to post this blog, that I fear one more time and I may have to go to confession.)

June 22: by Teresa Tomeo Tuscany: God's Country




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Day 3 Tour of Assisi


by Joan Lewis

I got to Assisi yesterday in mid-afternoon and had some time to get settled into my hotel and go out to buy a jacket or heavy sweater because the weather was drastically different than the hot, sunny weather in Rome – much cooler with gray, cloudy skies and a promise of rain – which we got today as you will see by the photos.

Dinner with the women of WINE (Women In the New Evangelization)  was at the wonderful Enoteca Mazzini just across from the hotel I am staying at, Hotel dei Priori. about a block off of Assisi’s main square. This was my first chance to meet some of the amazing women who have joined this pilgrimage - women I met again for this morning’s visit to the basilicas of Saint Clare and Saint Francis and women I want to get to know better in the coming two days as we visit St. Catherine and Siena and environs and then Wednesday, on our way to Rome, to see Saint Rita of Cascia.

Outside the church built over the home where St. Francis was born and lived for years

Statues of the parents of St. Francis:

Because of my Cracow delay I did not get to joint them on Saturday, their arrival day in Italy and first day in Assisi but here is a link to some of the photos posted by Kelly Wahlquist, founder of WINE and one of the most amazing women I will ever know. She and Teresa Tomeo are co-hosts of this pilgrimage and the three of us were together today after our tour of the basilicas to tape a segment for Teresa’s Catholic Connection program on EWTN radio. A temporary studio was set up in a small office just off the lobby of the Subasio Hotel near the basilica of Saint Francis.   (

See the cross in the photo above? This was in the hotel office and there was also a cross in the hotel restaurant - and in many other restaurants and stores. Can you imagine what would happen if a cross was placed in a restaurant in America!

I hope to spend some quality time with each of the women during our Umbria journey and to learn their stories and their reasons for taking this pilgrimage. The story of one such journey was told today by Julie on Teresa’s program, There were four of us in the studio and, as the expression goes, not a dry eye in the house.

One of the four altars in this church shaped like a Greek cross.

Another altar under restoration. the area I have highlighted had been hidden for years under stone but one Franciscan felt the stone was hiding frescoes and he was right, The narrow strip you see in the middle (there were four of these in each chapel) is what was hidden under the stone and is being restored. You can see the restoration also in my previous photo.

I did have an unexpected thrill when I went to the Hotel Subasio after visiting the basilica as I intended to have lunch before doing the show with Teresa. I was sitting in the lobby texting Teresa when three people came in with luggage to register. They looked at me and I heard a chorus of, “Oh my goodness, it’s Joan’s Rome, it Joan from EWTN.” It turned out they were with a group guided by Steve Ray and as the others poured into the lobby, I was mobbed by well-wishers, A half dozen people took out their copies of my book and I signed those books and we did a lot of photos. What a fun-filled serendipitous meeting!

In this photo, our guide was bringing us down to the saint's home but the doors were closed this morning and we could not enter the small rooms. I have photos somewhere in my archives and will try to find those.

Everyone in our group had the afternoon off to explore Assisi or, as many will have done, to rest, given the early morning call for prayers with the sisters of St. Clare convent.

We meet for dinner at 7:30 at the Hotel dei Congressi where most of the WINE group are staying, high on a hill above Assisi.

Stay tuned - and visit the website whose link I gave earlier!

To follow Joan Lewis, visit Joan's Rome

To follow Teresa Tomeo, visit

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Day 2: Pennies from Heaven

by Teresa Tomeo

I am not a singer by any means. But ever since the first full day of our WINE (Women in the New Evangelization) WINE and Shrine Pilgrimage began, I can’t get that familiar tune out of my head and my heart.

Every time it rains
It rains pennies from heaven
Don't you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven
You'll find your fortune
Fallin' all over town
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.

A main focus of our ten-day trip is to help women get closer to Jesus and the Church through the lives of some of our greatest saints. As I explain in my latest book “Girlfriends and Other Saints,” the saints want to really be our BFF’s. They’re our sisters, our cheerleaders, our teammates, and companions on our journey of faith. And sometimes members of the Communion of Saints can be quite loud, bold, and in your face obvious when they want to get our attention.

Sunday, for example, during our first full day, we headed out from Assisi to the stunning Umbrian town of Norcia, birthplace of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica. As you can see from the lovely group photo taken under the statue of St. Benedict in the main piazza, it started out as a beautiful sunny day. After Mass however, the storm clouds rolled in and began to shower us with plenty of pennies from heaven, or more specifically pennies from St. Scholastica’s corner of heaven.

You see thunderstorms and heavy rains are closely associated with our saintly sister. Before St. Scholastica passed away, Christ gave her a vision of her death. St. Scholastica met with her brother once a year to discuss spiritual matters, and since she was not allowed to enter his monastery in Monte Cassino, he met her at a home several miles away. During what would be their final earthly visit, and knowing that she had little time left on this earth, St. Scholastica begged her brother to stay and continue their reflections into the morning. Benedict refused to spend the night away from the monastery. I guess we could say that St. Scholastica then decided to “storm” heaven with prayers asking God to somehow prevent her brother from leaving. Well, ask and you shall receive. Scholastica’s prayers were answered with the perfectly timed arrival of a thunderstorm so severe that Benedict was forced to stay with his sister. Three days later she died.

St. Scholastic reminded us this week of her presence in her hometown of Norcia. Yes, the rain made it a bit more difficult to get around especially on slippery cobblestoned streets. But we’re on pilgrimage after all. We’re doing our best to be open to the intercession of the saints; to spot those pennies from heaven, and to make sure the umbrella of our hearts are upside down and open to what God has in store on this pilgrimage journey and beyond.

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Day 2: Mass in Norcia

Day 2: Mass in Norcia

Day 2 Continued.Off to tour the Abby of St. Eutizio where St Bennidict would visit the hermits who lived in the caves there. It was here when living as a hermit he sought wisdom from St. Eutizio and wrote the rule of Bennidict. 

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Day 1: Arrive in Roma - Off to Assisi

Today, 28 pilgrims arrived in Roma from all over the United States. Though the flight was long, bodies were tired, and many longed for a hot shower, the women of WINE rallied and immediately hopped on a bus to Assisi...well, after a cappuccino that is.

The bus ride began with a beautiful prayer thanking God for bringing us all together "for such a time as this" and asking for His Spirit to descend upon us as we go forth these next 8 days on a journey to grow closer to our Lord. 

We had a beautiful day in Assisi. Exhausted but exhilarated, we walked in the footsteps of St. Clare and St. Francis. As always happens, there are frozen moments of unexpected, but beautiful graces. In our case, we were blessed to witness the wedding of a lovely couple from Australia, and all of Assisi gathered around Andy and Margarita to celebrate their wedding day. Many of the pilgrims, first-timers to Italy—as tired as they were—could not help but express how much beauty the country had to offer.

Our day ended with a lovely dinner, and another one of those impromptu frozen blessings, as two of our pilgrims from Oklahoma wondered off exploring and found an unbelievable upper deck on the hotel were we all gathered, watched the sunset and began singing, giving glory to God!

Check out our pictures from the day here -> WINE & Shrine Day 1

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Blessings on Your Travels

Dr. Pia de Solenni, Teresa Tomeo & Kelly Wahlquist discussing WINE & Shrine in Trastevere

Dr. Pia de Solenni, Teresa Tomeo & Kelly Wahlquist discussing WINE & Shrine in Trastevere


We want to wish you every blessing on your travels today! Teresa and I just arrived in Rome and have been working with Corporate Travel and the wonderful people at Aliantour to prepare for our upcoming pilgrimage—and we are truly excited for your arrival!

Tonight, we were blessed to have dinner with Dr. Pia de Solenni, an impressive ethicist and Catholic Theologian, who is an expert on issues related to women's health, life issues, the new feminism, and the culture. Trust me! She has WINE running through her veins and we can't wait to share with you our conversation... but until then, we want you to know that we will be praying for you on your travels.

For those of you flying from Minneapolis or Newark, you will meet up with Sharon Wilson at the gate. Be sure to look for her and to let her know you are there. Sharon's picture is below. For those of you meeting us in Italy, we will se you at Fiumicino (the airport in Rome.)

Looking forward to journeying with you,

Kelly, Teresa, Joan & Sharon

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