Deborah Kurilchyk just wanted to receive home delivery of OC Catholic, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Orange. The Tustin resident took advantage of the special offer that included the Sunday edition of the OC Register, delivered with the OC Catholic newspaper. But she ended up with much more. Kurilchyk won the contest that was designed to spur subscriptions – an all-expense-paid trip to Rome and to the Vatican.
“I have never won anything or even known anyone who has won something like this,” Kurilchyk told OC Catholic. She recalled receiving the phone call from the Diocese, saying that the woman on the line notified her that she had won the contest. “I almost fell off my chair,” Kurilchyk said, adding “I think I started to cry.”
Kurilchyk had been to Rome when she was a teenager, but said she was too young to appreciate it at the time. Today she is a 40-year Catholic convert, confirmation catechist and master catechist. She says the trip helped her classroom instruction and that she brought back souvenirs and photos for her confirmation students.
The prize included a trip for two, so Kurilchyk invited her Italian foreign exchange sister, also a Catholic, to join her in Rome for the Vatican Museums tour. They both contacted the Vatican and were able to obtain tickets to the Papal Audience.
“I even have a typed and signed letter from a Vatican official,” Kurilchyk said.
During their stay they saw the four major basilicas and the catacombs of Priscilla as well as Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Popes.
“The last day in Rome was so exciting,” Kurilchyk said. “We got to see the Pope in person from the crowd, take pictures, and hear his address.”
Kurilchyk extended her trip five more days to visit Venice, Padua and Verona.
“The last day we visited Milan,” she said. “I was able to obtain tickets for us to see Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper painting. What an extraordinary experience. Then again, the entire trip was amazing.”
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