Perpetual Pilgrims
Announcement Press Kit

The National Eucharistic Congress issued a call last October for young Catholics to apply in service as Perpetual Pilgrims along the four distinct routes destined for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress this summer in Indianapolis, IN. After sifting through more than 100 applications and conducting multiple rounds of interviews and follow-up screenings, the National Eucharistic Congress is pleased to announce the core group of 24 individuals who have been selected to accompany Jesus in the Eucharist for the full duration of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage taking place May 17 to July 16, 2024.

These Perpetual Pilgrims will travel a combined distance of over 6,500 miles, stopping at many holy sites along this unprecedented coast-to-coast pilgrimage modeled after the Gospel account of Jesus’ journey to Emmaus two millennia ago.

Perpetual Pilgrims for the Serra Route pictured with Bishop Andrew Cozzens
Perpetual Pilgrims on retreat with Bishop Andrew Cozzens/ Photo courtesy of Bonnie Thibault
*Chas East is not pictured

Exclusive Media Event

Members of the media are invited to meet four of the Perpetual Pilgrims at a special virtual press conference on Thursday, March 21 at 2:00 p.m. EST. Registration is required.

March 21
2:00PM EST
Sign Up

Meet the Perpetual Pilgrims

* Indicates participation in March 21 press briefing

Serra Route

Perpetual Pilgrims of the Serra Route
(Chas East not pictured)
Jaella Mac Au

Jaella Mac Au*

Jaella is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Georgia studying Human Development and Family Sciences with a focus in Child Life. Jaella desires to live a life that ensures people feel seen and called by name; her studies support this by educating her deeply about individuals and families across the lifespan. Jaella lives this mission as an intern with Extra Special People Inc. and as a Prayer Team Lead at the UGA Catholic Center. Along with this, Jaella is a Lay Member of Regnum Christi and a Core Team member of Mercy Missions Atlanta. In her free time, she enjoys running and reading books, but never at the same time! Jaella is excited beyond words to be a Perpetual Pilgrim walking the Serra Route, and prays that whomever is called to join the pilgrimage be assured of the Father’s gentle love and providence through Jesus in the Eucharist for not only this summer, but the rest of their lives.

“The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is a privilege and opportunity that I am ecstatic to be a part of because it seeks to bring together countless facets of the Church - showcasing a glimpse of the diversity the Church holds. To see the Church be brought together in a universal way, yet intimate, is something that I look forward to - with Jesus in the Eucharist at the center of it all.”

Jack Krebs

Jack Krebs

Jack grew up in southern Wisconsin and is currently attending the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. He will graduate in May with a dual bachelor’s in Water Science and Environmental Science. He hopes to work in outdoor ministry after the pilgrimage, as he is passionate about fostering encounters with our Creator through time spent in creation. Jack applied to be a Perpetual Pilgrim because he is captivated by Jesus in the Eucharist and wants everyone to understand how great a gift we’re offered each day. In his spare time, Jack enjoys water sports in northern Wisconsin, exploring any public tract of land, and he is a part of the UNL Soil Judging Team.   

“I am honored to be a part of this incredible movement within the Church and our country! Interacting with such a variety of people along the route, who are all united in the Eucharistic supper, will be a beautiful experience. I hope to provide space for the Lord to work a powerful revival in Eucharistic faith for each person who encounters Jesus along the way!”

Marian Route

Perpetual Pilgrims of the Marian Route
Kai Weiss

Kai Weiss*

Kai is originally from Regensburg, Germany but moved to America in 2021.  He currently resides in Washington, DC, where he is a graduate student in theology at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception and a researcher at the Thomistic Institute. He holds a Master's degree in Politics from Hillsdale College, where he focused on the political thought of St. Augustine and Pope Benedict XVI. He can't wait to spend two months with Jesus and to grow more in love with Him in the Eucharist. Having fallen in love with this country and its vibrant and young Catholic culture, he also hopes that the pilgrimage can draw this divided nation together in Christ's Eucharistic love. Kai loves to spend time outdoors, especially hiking in the Alps and the American West, and he is stubbornly working towards traveling to all 50 states (he is currently at 47!). Among his favorite saints are Pier Giorgio Frassati, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Charles de Foucauld, and, especially for this pilgrimage, Francis Xavier Seelos, a Bavarian who moved to the U.S. to introduce Americans to the Catholic faith and serve them.

“This will be a once-in-a-life adventure! On one hand, I'm excited to participate in this pilgrimage because it will be a unique experience to approach Jesus in the Eucharist more closely. We will walk with Him all day every day for two straight months - when does that ever happen? On the other hand, I hope that Jesus can sanctify this land through the procession and bring this polarized country closer together once more.”

Matthew Heidenreich

Matthew Heidenreich

Matthew Heidenreich is a second-year student at the University of Alabama, studying mathematics. He currently serves as the director of Mathtastic, a tutoring program for middle schoolers in the Tuscaloosa community, and as the Vice President of Community Outreach for BamaCatholic. Originally from Ohio, Matthew loves being outdoors and exploring new places. He is thrilled to combine his passion for hiking and his love of sharing the faith as he begins his time as a Perpetual Pilgrim. Matthew is deeply grateful for the opportunity to follow intimately in the footsteps of the Eucharistic Lord and to watch as Jesus transforms the hearts of all those who join along the Marian Route this summer. 

“I am thrilled to be able to follow the example of the apostles and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus this summer. I know that Jesus will do so much in all of the incredible events, but I'm especially excited to hear His voice in the little, unexpected moments of walking or simply being in His Presence. I can't wait to meet Jesus in every conversation, every smile and laugh, every ache and pain, and every step of the way to Indianapolis.”

Seton Route

Perpetual Pilgrims of the Seton Route
Zoe Dongas

Zoe Dongas*

Zoe Dongas is a Filipino-American actor, musician, and game night enthusiast based in New York City. Originally from Nashville, TN, she holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music Theatre and a minor in International Studies from Oklahoma City University. Zoe aspires to grow closer to the person of Christ in the people she encounters and the stories she tells. Currently, she works in the Office of Young Adult Outreach of the Archdiocese of New York and is the Board Secretary of Catholic Artist Connection. She is honored to accompany our Lord across the country and looks forward to the many sacred and silly moments ahead.

“I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to embark on this journey with our Eucharistic Lord. I’m excited to meet all the people our Lord will encounter along the way, from the faithful of each diocese to the strangers crossing the street. I’m especially honored to get to spend so much time with our Lord on this pilgrimage and with my fellow pilgrims. What a gift it is to receive our Lord’s love and to be a part of sharing His love on this great adventure.”

Amayrani Higueldo

Amayrani Higueldo

Amayrani is originally from Acapulco, Guerrero Mexico and currently resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Amayrani recently finished her Nursing Degree at Montgomery County Community College and is a first-generation college graduate. Amayrani has worked in youth ministry for over 7 years at her local parish St. Patrick’s Church in Norristown, PA. Amayrani loves to hike and watch sports. She chose to be a Perpetual Pilgrim because she knows firsthand the power of encountering Christ in the Eucharist and wants to share the joy and healing that comes from a Eucharistic encounter with as many people as possible. The Perpetual Pilgrimage is also a great opportunity to grow deeper in love with Jesus and share in his love.

“I am incredibly excited to be a part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. My soul rejoices at the thought of walking side by side with Jesus for two whole months. As a pilgrim, I am most looking forward to being a witness to the power of the Eucharistic Lord in my life with others. Especially reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community in my home parish of Norristown, PA, but also along the Seton route.”

Juan Diego Route

Perpetual Pilgrims of the Juan Diego Route
Shayla Elm

Shayla Elm*

Shayla is a people person by nature. She comes from a large family with 7 brothers, 3 sister-in-laws, 14 nieces and nephews, and 2 loving parents. Shayla is originally from Minot, ND, and went to college at the University of Mary where she completed her degree in Communication. She currently resides in Denver, CO, where she works for the Catholic non-profit Christ in the City as their Community Engagement Manager. In her job, Shayla gets to connect many volunteers and families to serving the homeless in Denver’s community. Shayla chose to be a Perpetual Pilgrim to bear witness to Jesus in the world. She feels convicted to revive the hearts of Catholics to know and love the Eucharist. In her free time, you can find Shayla thrifting, skiing, hiking, or playing banjo. Whatever she is doing, she is most likely surrounded by the people she loves. 

“I am eager to be a Perpetual Pilgrim, as I have been set on fire by our Eucharistic Lord. This pilgrimage will be a witness to our age that Jesus is real, that He wants to know you personally, and that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. I hope that this pilgrimage invites many participants to encounter Him on the way.”

Charlie McCullough

Charlie McCullough

Charlie joins the team from the Diocese of Austin. Charlie is a proud Texan and soon-to-be graduate of Texas A&M, but he will be quick to remind you that his identity begins and ends as an adopted son of God. Charlie’s dream day would consist of climbing a mountain, playing a game of cards at the top, and finishing off the evening around a campfire with a soft guitar in the background. During his freshman year of college, Charlie had a personal encounter with the Eucharist at Mass that began a relationship of deep love with Jesus Christ. Now, whether it is in the walls of his home or his mechanical engineering classes, Charlie can be found mentoring other men and inviting them to build their identity on being a son of God. Charlie accepted the role of Perpetual Pilgrim because he knows how deep a gaze from the Eucharist can change someone’s life, and he is overjoyed to witness this encounter time and time again across America.

“The opportunity to walk as a Perpetual Pilgrim during the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is the greatest invitation I have ever received. I feel unworthy for such a unique role, yet I am overjoyed that Jesus Christ has invited me to come and follow Him across the United States. This pilgrimage will have a significant role in the history of the Catholic Church and our nation, and it is an honor to be able to participate along the entirety of the route.”

Get to know all of the Perpetual Pilgrims

Suggested Interview Questions:

  • Can you tell our audience a bit about yourself and why you felt inspired to serve as a Perpetual Pilgrim?
  • How has the Eucharist impacted your own faith journey?
  • What excites you about the particular route you will be serving on? Are there any special stops along the way that you are most looking forward to?
  • What will a day in the life of a Perpetual Pilgrim look like?
  • How are you and your fellow pilgrims preparing…both spiritually and practically?

Media Requests

Perpetual Pilgrim spokespersons are available for interviews leading up to the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. Amayrani Higueldo is available for Spanish-language requests. To schedule an interview with one of these individuals, contact Carrie Kline at for interview requests.

Download ASsets

Click on the link below to access logos and route maps for the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.
Download ASsets