Photo: Courtesy of Linda Lingyak

That's Dorothy shaking the Holy Father's hand. Her daughter Linda is to the right.

And They Met the Pope, Too!

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May 7, 2010

Linda Linyak is the daughter.

Dorothy Ezzo is her mother.

They are members of the Association of Marian Helpers.

In October 2008, they entered a drawing of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, in Stockbridge, Mass.

And they won!

Won what? An all-expenses-paid trip to Rome.

The two women, from Greenwood, S.C., made their voyage April 15-22, 2010. The following is their story, in Linda's words:

I really cannot express in detail and depth the vastness — the emotional and spiritual vastness — of our pilgrimage to Rome, offered by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. Except that it was a pure blessing from the supreme mercy of God, from start to finish.

At first, we somehow — by God's Providence — averted the delays wrought by volcanic ash that halted most air travel in Europe. Oh, and "by chance" — God's Providence — while visiting the Vatican, we met Pope Benedict XVI. We talked with him, and — yes — we shook his hand and kissed his ring. Needless to say, this was truly a memory and blessing for a lifetime, not to be forgotten. The other seven days of our pilgrimage amounted to a treasure trove of experiences and amazing adventures.

Another happenstance, on Sunday the 18th, during our visit to the Coliseum, we witnessed a celebration in which they simulated how Christmas must have been like in ancient times. A parade included real-looking gladiators, different religions, and dances. It was a complete look at the Roman legends, a thrill to view.

Another huge special day was when we were escorted on a visit to Naples, where my grandfather was born. Hopefully, I stepped on some soil he had stepped on in his time. That was a wonderful blessing, along with our tour to Pompei.

Not to mention, at the insistence of Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC, [who serves on the Marians' General Council in Rome], we visited the four major basilicas. During that journey, there was not a space or corner anywhere that did not have a bit — or a lot — of history. We saw art and beauty that were unimaginable. We were stricken with awe by such things as the story of the aqueducts that carried water into the city and by the Roman bathes. There are simply too many things to name.

Finally, before closing, I must mention that this experience would not have been possible or as enriching or as totally complete without the aid, support, and direction from many others from the Marians. To name a few, Fr. Joe, Fr. Peter, Fr. Mark, and many more people who were there for my mother and me. Thank you Fr. Bogus for your gift of crosses! All of the Marians continue their work within the Association of the Marian Helpers helping to bring countless numbers of people closer to Jesus, The Divine Mercy.

The Marians help spread God's mercy. They dedicate their lives — their time, knowledge, gifts, and talents — with whomever they come in contact with for the greater cause of unity among God's people. Their efforts to make powerful connections among people and instill stronger faith and love — these are the things that are the Marians' goal and gift to mankind.

The Marians serve as examples in how to care for others, how to show kindness and compassion, how to understand others and think of the needs of others. They have such a positive energy. Through their eyes, hopefully more people can see the value in living in a real spiritual way instead of a worldly way.

Thank you for awakening and renewing my spirit, and for the fresh beginning for my life.

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Bob Merritt - May 10, 2010

Christians everywhere recognize the Pope as one of our greatest spiritual leaders. You and your Mom have met a truly great man of God. I am happy for you and can't wait to hear about the adventure in person.

David Lingyak - May 8, 2010

I am Linda's husband and Dorothy's son-in-law, thanks to the Marian Organization, I KNOW they had a trip of a lifetime...thank you.

Mark Wallrapp - May 8, 2010

What an amazing trip! To meet the pope is an incredibly special blessing and I know Aunt Linda and Grandma Dorothy will not take it for granted!

marcia - May 8, 2010


Anthony - May 7, 2010

Your story of the trip to the Vatican and having an encounter with Pope Benedict XVI has a very special part in my life, I will hold all of the Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception in my daily prayers.
May the LORD have Graces and Mercy continue to flow upon you for years to come.