Kieran Rooney, a Belfast-born Irish emigrant to Argentina, has shown quick witted enterprise by offering a pilgrimage around the home place of the new Pope that is specially designed for Irish travellers.
Within hours of the papal election announcement, Mr. Rooney had organised the first papal pilgrimage to Buenos Aires, allowing tourists to experience the regular haunts of Pope Francis before he was appointed. "I saw the opportunity and decided to do something about it," explained Rooney, "I think it is an opportunity based on the fact that there is a lot of interest in the new Pope. He is an inspirational figure and I think that people are interested in what he did here in Argentina before he was Pope."
The seven day tour includes the Jesuit Seminary where he studied, the Colegio de Salvador where he taught philosophy and a church where he sheltered while on the run from the Argentine military dictatorship. The tour also provides a lecture on Argentina’s political history and a visit to the slums where the former Archbishop Bergoglio worked and sought social justice for the poor. Pilgrims will also get to experience those parts of the city where the Pope regularly celebrated Mass and may also stop off at the humble one-bedroom apartment where he lived while a cardinal.
The pilgrimage package, which costs £1,500, includes flights and transfers as well as seven nights accommodation at Rooney’s Boutique Hotel. Explaining why people will want to experience this tour, Mr. Rooney said, "People are already inspired by the new Pope. Devotees of the Catholic Church will be inspired to find out more about him and where he came from" reveals The Irish News.
Originally from Finaghy in south Belfast, Rooney took a year out to travel South America where he met his Argentine wife, Gabriela, in 2000. They married in 2005 and bought Rooney’s Boutique Hotel the following year.
For more information on papal pilgrimages to Argentina see www.rooneysboutiquehotel.com