“It’s like suddenly finding out an old friend, who you haven’t seen in 30 or 40 years, is still there,” said Rev. Charles Allen, S.J., University Chaplain to the Alumni Association. His friend is not necessarily a person; it is a place.
In the spring of 1973 Allen took a vacation from his studies in Rome and, along with a few colleagues, traveled down south to Sicily. Forty-one years later, he is finally planning on returning to the island this November as part of the Alumni Traveling Program he founded three years ago.
Many white-haired alumni, community members and friends of Allen gathered in Alumni House Tuesday evening for an information session about the trip led by Collette, a large global travel agency which has coordinated all of the Allen’s adventures with the Alumni Traveling Program.
The Alumni Traveling Program is a part of Alumni Relations, which Allen heads as chaplain to the Alumni Association. It formalized in the fall of 2011 with a trip to northern Italy. This was then followed by a trip in 2012 to London and Paris and proceeded in 2013 with a voyage to Barcelona and Madrid, all organized through Collette.
“If you take a look, just about every university has travel programs,” said Allen. “It’s a way to get your alumni very involved in the institution – hey, and if they are generous, all the better … it’s part of the ongoing educational process,” said Allen.
According to Allen, about half of the travelers are Fairfield alumni. They average 65 years of age, and many are returning travelers with the program. The trips are more or less ten days, and include about thirty travelers.
David Malane is not an alumni, rather a member of St. Pius X Parish in Fairfield, Conn. He first heard of these trips two years ago in the church bulletin and decided to go to Barcelona and Madrid with Allen’s program.
“It was great; we really loved it a lot,” said Malane. “It’s a very nice trip; they give you a lot of free time and you’re not jumping around to a different hotel every night,” said Malane.
According to Malane, traveling with Collette was a more leisurely experience compared to other agencies he has done international travel with. He said that traveling with Collette was a positive experience, and he is excited to go to Sicily this fall.
“Half of the education you get here at Fairfield is in the classroom. Another quarter is from your fellow students, just the conversations you have … and another quarter is from where you are located … so you have to see a little more of the world,” said Allen.
That same spring of 1973, when Allen first visited Sicily, Dan Sullivan Jr. ‘73 was handed a diploma from Fairfield University; he is now President and CEO of Collette.