Road Journal, Week 4: Following Jesus

June 20, 2024

More incredible stories of encounter and conversion are rippling across the nation as the Pilgrimage routes make their way towards Indianapolis. From a tricycle to an airstream camper, pilgrims are finding all sorts of creative ways to follow the routes!

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route (East)

On the Seton Route, four sisters from the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love are following the route in an airstream camper, driven by a retiree and recent convert to the Catholic faith. They’re enjoying community life in tight quarters, accompanying Our Lord for the duration of the route. Learn more about the providential story behind the sisters’ participation in the Pilgrimage in a recent clip from EWTN.

This past week, the Pilgrimage visited the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton—the namesake of the eastern route—in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Even though this small town’s population is only about 3,600, the procession drew 1,500 participants. The National Catholic Register records an observation from the rector of Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary: “I don’t think Emmitsburg has seen anything like this... I did my best to turn around and try to see the crowd and I couldn’t see the end of it.” Mass was celebrated at the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, followed by a procession to Mother Seton Catholic School, founded by the saint in 1810.

A couple days later, the Pilgrimage arrived in our nation’s capital, celebrating Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Following Mass, a procession through the nearby Brookland neighborhood included 1,200 participants. The 2-mile procession arrived at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, where a stationary procession and Mass celebrated in American Sign Language were held for the Catholic deaf community and others affected by disability.

The monstrance in the foreground with priests and a crowd in the background during Eucharistic adoration outside

Marian Route (North)

The Pilgrimage crossed over from Minnesota to Wisconsin on the Marian Route, leaving the Diocese of Winona-Rochester and entering the Diocese of La Crosse. Bishop Robert Barron led a Eucharistic procession of several thousand people, which ended at the La Crosse Center for a Eucharistic rally entitled “The Answer.”

Perpetual Pilgrim Matthew Heidenreich shared about his experience so far that “we didn’t know what to expect… it definitely wasn’t something like this, where just so many hearts are coming together.” Kai Weiss, another Perpetual Pilgrim on the Marian Route, described how “it's such a unique adventure… a once in a lifetime opportunity to be on this pilgrimage from the beginning to the end.”

Bishop Robert Barron leads a Eucharistic procession outdoors

St. Juan Diego Route (South)

“Eucharist: My Source of Strength” was the slogan handwritten in both English and Spanish on a cardboard sign attached to a tricycle powered by Patricia Galindo, a woman who committed to following the Juan Diego Route from her hometown of Brownsville to Galveston Island, Texas. Accompanied by a friend, she covered over 600 miles in 15 days!

The Catholic Spirit shares Patricia’s reflections on the Pilgrimage: “Something inside us said just to go… We’re being lit up with the light of the Lord… we’re praying for all the families, the homes, everyone that we’re passing by… We’re also praying for everyone who can’t join the pilgrimage.” Through her unique participation, Patricia showed that physical ability isn’t a hindrance to letting the Eucharistic Lord minister through her (or anyone)!

A beautiful cathedral filled with parishioners

St. Junipero Serra Route (West)

The Serra Route of the Pilgrimage made its way through the Rocky Mountains, stopping at St. Catherine Chapel on the Rock at Camp St. Malo. Pope Saint John Paul II visited this same chapel while he was in town for World Youth Day in 1993! Campers and staff from nearby Annunciation Heights were also at the chapel that day and joined the pilgrims for prayer and Benediction.

While in the Denver area, the pilgrims visited the Mother Cabrini Shrine to pray with the staff and local religious as they asked for the saint’s intercession on their journey. On the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the pilgrims participated in Christ in the City’s Lunch in the Park ministry, which seeks to build community between local residents and those affected by homelessness in Denver.

Shayla Elm, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims, normally serves as the ministry’s community engagement manager. A colleague who is taking her place while Shayla journeys with the Pilgrimage remarked about the pilgrims that “they’re not just walking alone. They haven’t journeyed this whole way by themselves, but rather with Christ, present with them the whole way.”

A Eucharistic procession at St. Malo with mountains in the background

Stay up-to-date with news about the Pilgrimage at the Pilgrims’ Digest blog. Register here for one of the many free events when the Pilgrimage comes near you! And whether or not you’re able to join us in person, you can share your prayer intentions with the Perpetual Pilgrims and plan your own pilgrimage.

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