Nashville seminarian organizing pilgrimage to Rome for diaconate ordination

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Diocese of Nashville seminarian David Lee is excited about his approaching ordination as a transitional deacon this September in Rome.

“It’s an incredibly humbling experience to feel like you’re on the edge of ordination,” Lee said. “I entered the seminary in 2018, and when you first enter you think of ordination as being a long way off, but as it’s gotten closer and closer, the excitement builds, and it’s more tangible, especially seeing the ordination this past year at St. Peter’s Basilica where I was able to see myself within a year of laying down my life for the Lord, in that very same way, was very powerful.”

Reflecting on his time in Rome and thinking of all the steps he’s gone through to reach his diaconate ordination, “It’s the prayers of the people of Nashville that have carried me through seminary.”

To thank them for those prayers and support, Lee, with the help of Ciao Roma Travel, has organized a pilgrimage to Rome for the people of the diocese to come and visit the heart of the Church and experience his ordination to the transitional diaconate on Sept. 28 at St. Peter’s Basilica.

“I wanted to invite people to experience a special moment in the life of the Church, especially the local Church in Nashville, to see Rome and hopefully a future priest in their diocese being ordained here,” Lee said. “I hope this pilgrimage is a small way that I can invite the people of Nashville into this process to see the Lord’s work in my life and the Lord’s work in the Church and to get excited about the future of the Church in the United States.

“I just hope they would love the opportunity to pray here in Rome in the heart of the Church, to see the pope, to see the Church at its fullest, and see the people from all over the world who are living here and studying here all for the Glory of God.”

The 11-day pilgrimage from Sept. 22 through Oct. 2, will include daily Mass and opportunities for Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, praying the Angelus with Pope Francis, visiting several sites of the saints, visiting the city of Assisi, and more. The pilgrimage will be led by local Catholic musician PJ Anderson, who owns Ciao Roma Travel.

It will all surround the diaconate ordination Mass of Lee and the 18 other seminarians from around the country currently at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. It will be followed up the next day with the newly ordained Lee’s first Mass as a deacon, for which he will preach the homily.

“It’s been several years  since we’ve had someone from Nashville be ordained a deacon in Rome,” Lee said. “To think about the history of the Church in Rome, going all the way back to St. Peter who died just steps from St. Peter’s Basilica, to think of the number of saints who have made pilgrimages to Rome, to be in the heart of the Church, to immerse myself in Rome…, to be surrounded by the saints has been incredible to say the least.”

Thinking back to the first Nashville seminarian to study at the North American College in the late 1800s, he continued, saying, “There has been a long history of men coming and taking a boat over from Nashville to stay for five years and then take the boat back as a priest,” Lee said. “To be a part of that history both in the diocese and of the history here in Rome is incredibly inspiring and humbling to be able to lay down my life in the same spot as so many others before me. … It is a great gift to get to experience the tradition of the Mother Church here in Rome in this special way.”

That gift is what Lee said he hopes the pilgrims that come on this trip experience as well.

“I hope it gives them a small glimpse into the universal Church,” Lee said. “It’s also a great opportunity to visit beautiful churches, to see the Italian culture as well as the culture of the Church, and to grow in friendship with the many saints who had come to Rome at some point in their life as well. 

“I think that will be a huge benefit of the pilgrimage in addition to lots of pasta and gelato,” Lee said. “Those are the side benefits. Spiritual first, but you’ve got to eat, too.”

The pilgrimage is $3,695 per person and includes roundtrip airfare, transportation, hotel arrangements, any site fees, and most meals.

For more information, contact PJ Anderson of Ciao Roma Travel at 219-616-2029 or email

To view the full itinerary and to register for the pilgrimage, visit, and click “Register here.” Spaces are limited so early sign-up is encouraged. 

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