Rev. Gary P. Copping was born in New Orleans on May 28, 1967, the fourth and last son of Leon Copping and Frances Copping. He attended Brother Martin High School graduating with honors. He went to UNO to study Bio-Physics and is a member of Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity. Before receiving his degree, Gary left UNO to enter the seminary at St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, LA. He received his BA in Liberal Arts in 1991 and went on to study at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Gary left Notre Dame Seminary in the beginning of his third year of theology in 1993. Three years later, he married Judy Bennett from Marked Tree, AR on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, September 14, 1996. Gary worked at Kirschman’s for 11 years before being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. He and his wife, Judy, spent the next 4/5 years in both Arkansas and Missouri. Gary worked for 5 years at Hank’s Fine Furniture. Judy died in Little Rock, AR on November 22, 2009. After Judy’s death, Gary re-entered the seminary, returning to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans in the Fall of 2010. He spent the next three years there and received a Masters in Divinity degree, graduating magna cum laude.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who was Fr. Gary’s rector when he was at Notre Dame Seminary the first time and who was the Archbishop of New Orleans when Fr. Gary re-entered the seminary, ordained Gary to the Presbyterate on June 01, 2013. Fr. Gary’s first assignment as a parochial vicar was at St. Anselm Parish in Madisonville, LA. He was there from July 2013 to the end of June 2016. In 2016, Fr. Gary was named as parochial vicar at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Slidell, LA. He stayed there a year until he was appointed by Archbishop Aymond as the new pastor of both St. Joseph Church and Shrine on the Westbank and St. Anthony Parish in Gretna. He is the 15th Pastor at St. Joseph. He is looking forward to many wonderful years at his new parishes.
Fr. Copping has been on many pilgrimages, including Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Medjugorje, Mexico, and the Holy Land. He is very much looking forward to traveling to Turkey and Greece.
Day 1. Wednesday, October 16: Transatlantic flight to Istanbul, Turkey
Day 2. Thursday, October 17: Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul! Formerly Byzantium and Constantinople, it was the center of the Eastern Roman Empire, and is situated astride Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. Upon a late arrival, enjoy a complimentary dish at your hotel.
Day 3. Friday, October 18: Istanbul
Today visit Chora Church, boasting some of the oldest and finest surviving Byzantine mosaics and frescoes. Then to Yerebatan Underground Cistern, the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city. See the remains of the Hippodrome and marvel at the magnificent Basilica of St. Sophia, which was the largest church in the world and the heart of Orthodox Christianity within the Byzantine Empire for nearly 1,000 years. It was converted into a mosque after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Finally, visit Hagia Irene, the first Christian church built in Constantinople by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. Overnight in Istanbul. (B, L, D)
Day 4. Saturday, October 19: Istanbul – Fly to Cappadocia
Take a flight to the Cappadocia region, where the foundations of the Catholic Faith were laid by St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Gregory of Nyssa in the 4th century. Visit Zelve Monastery, carved into the rock in pre-iconoclastic times. Tour the Underground City of Ozkonak, tunnelled into the soft volcanic rock by Christian inhabitants around the 6th century. Overnight in Cappadocia. (B, L, D)
Day 5. Sunday, October 20: Cappadocia
Early this morning, you may take an optional hot air balloon ride over the deep canyons and lush valleys of Cappadocia. Then, enjoy a visit to a local carpet-making factory. Continue to admire the fascinating Goreme Valley, with its unusual rock formations known as “Fairy Chimneys”. Some of the grottos are magnificently decorated with colorful frescoes depicting biblical scenes. Then, explore the hidden monastic valley of Pasabag, which has a large number of carved rock houses, and Avanos to see the techniques of ceramic art dating from the 12th to 3rd centuries BC. Overnight in Cappadocia. (B, L, D)
Day 6. Monday, October 21: Cappadocia – Pamukkale (Hierapolis)
Journey across the lovely Anatolian countryside to Hierapolis, where St. Philip the Apostle preached and died. It was a thriving Roman city that became an important Christian center and where over the last 14,000 years, calcium-rich water from an underground thermal spring has flowed over the mountainside and slowly solidified, creating shallow white basins and twisted stalagmites. Overnight in Pamukkale. (B, L, D)
Day 7. Tuesday, October 22: Pamukkale – Laodicea – Philadelphia – Sardis – Kusadasi
Today visit three of the seven Churches of the Apocalypse: Laodicea, which was accused of being lukewarm; neither hot nor cold (Apoc. 3:14-16); Philadelphia (today Alaşehir), located on the Imperial Post Road, an important trade route, and which is praised in the Apocalypse (Apoc. 3: 7-10); and Sardis, part of the Roman province of Asia in New Testament times, and which the Lord asked to be watchful and do penance. Overnight in Kusadasi. (B, L, D)
Day 8. Wednesday, October 23: Ephesus, House of Virgin Mary
Take an excursion to Ephesus, the marble city where St. Paul spent three years of his ministry. It was to this community that St. Paul wrote his epistle to the Ephesians. Visit the House of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where she lived with St. John. Also visit the ancient agora, the library of Celsus and enter the Great Theater mentioned in the book of Acts. Afterwards, see the ruins of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, which was built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century and where the tomb of the apostle had once been located. Overnight in Kusadasi. (B, L, D)
Day 9. Thursday, October 24: Kusadasi: Patmos by private boat (weather permitting)
Take a private boat to the beautiful, Greek island of Patmos, where St. John the Apostle was exiled and where he wrote the book of the Apocalypse. Explore the 17th-century Orthodox Monastery of St. John, which houses the Sacred Cave in which St. John wrote the last book of the New Testament during his months of exile from 95 to 97 AD. Return to Kusadasi for overnight. (B, L, D)
Day 10. Friday, October 25: Smyrna – Thyatira – Pergamum – Canakkale
Today visit three more Churches of the Apocalypse. Begin with a stop in Smyrna (modern day Izmir) to visit St. Polycarp Church, the oldest Christian church there. It is dedicated to St. Polycarp, the city’s first bishop, who was converted by St. John the Apostle. Continue north to Thyatira (modern day Akhisar), which became an early center of Christianity, and St. Paul visited on several occasions. Lydia, the woman converted by St. Paul at Philippi, was from Thyatira (Acts 16:13-15). Finally, visit the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamum near Bergama. Overnight in Canakkale. (B, L, D)
Day 11. Saturday, October 26: Canakkale – Kavala – Philippi – Thessaloniki
Cross the boarder into Greece and journey to the modern port city of Kavala (the biblical Neapolis), where St. Paul accompanied by Sts. Silas, Luke and Timothy, first set foot in Europe. See the Roman aqueduct and enjoy a stroll along its picturesque fishing port. Continue to Philippi, where St. Paul delivered his first sermon in Europe. Visit the place where St. Paul and St. Silas were imprisoned; admire the splendid ruins of a Christian church; walk on Egnatia road; and visit the agora. See the site where Lydia was baptized (the first baptism in Europe). Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki. (B, L, D)
Day 12. Sunday, October 27: Thessaloniki – Veria – Kalambaka
In Thessaloniki, St. Paul lived, preached, and wrote his epistle to the Thessalonians. Head to the “upper city” and enjoy stunning views. Continue to the famous White Tower, the Roman market, the Arch of Galerius, and the Church of St. Sophia. Afterwards, visit the Church of St. Demetrius, patron saint of the city. Its crypt was built on the site where he was killed by Roman soldiers and buried. Drive to Veria (biblical Berea), one of St. Paul’s missionary stops. See the monument marking the spot where he stood and preached. Arrive in Kalambaka for dinner and overnight. (B, L, D)
Day 13. Monday, October 28: Kalambaka – Athens
Visit the beautiful and strange geographical formation of Meteora, formed by hanging rocks on top of which several Byzantine monasteries were built between the 9th and 12th centuries. Visit two of those monasteries. On the way to Athens, make a short stop at Thermopylae, to admire the statue of Leonidas (king of Sparta). Dinner and overnight in Athens. (B, L, D)
Day 14. Tuesday, October 29: Athens – Corinth – Athens
Follow the coastal road towards Corinth, where St. Paul lived for two years and wrote the first and second letters to the Corinthians. Visit the ruins of the ancient city where St. Paul worked with Aquila and Priscilla, the agora where his trial took place, the Temple of Apollo, and the Peirene Fountain. Return to Athens to visit the agora where St. Paul spoke to the Athenians, and ascend Aeropagus Hill, where he delivered his sermon “on the unknown God” and gained his first convert, Dionysius the Aeropagite, who became the patron saint of Athens. Then, visit the magnificent Acropolis, followed by a panoramic bus tour of the most important monuments and landmarks of the city. Return to your hotel for a farewell dinner and overnight. (B, L, FD)
Day 15. Wednesday, October 30: Homebound flight from Athens
Breakfast (B); Lunch (L); Dinner (D); Welcome Dinner (WD); Farewell Dinner (FD)
* In case of unforeseen events, this itinerary is subject to change.
For more information, please contact Carol Becnel, Group Coordinator, at (504) 330-3415 or firstname.lastname@example.org or you may contact Catholic Heritage Tours.