Road Journal, Week 5: Gathered as One

June 27, 2024

This week marked the halfway point of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. Journeying through Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Nebraska, all four routes are steadily making their way toward Indianapolis. Along the way, pilgrims and participants alike are experiencing community in a way many of them have never encountered before.

Read on to learn how Our Lord is drawing people not only to himself but also closer to each other as the Body of Christ.

Perpetual Pilgrims on the Seton Route posing for a photo
Perpetual Pilgrims on the Seton Route

The Perpetual Pilgrims

The Perpetual Pilgrims are a group of 30 young adults and seminarians who are following the Pilgrimage routes all the way to Indianapolis. They’ve gone from strangers to fast friends in the most unusual of circumstances: traveling with Jesus across the country for two months.

Marina Frattaroli, a pilgrim on the Seton Route, described it as “the greatest adventure… it’s been a joy to witness other young adults pursue God so fearlessly.”

While the days are long with traveling, stopping at multiple parishes and other Pilgrimage sites, and battling the summer heat, the pilgrims find the time and energy to enjoy community in the evenings over conversations and games (Uno is a favorite!).

Zoe Dongas, a pilgrim on the Seton route, told The Pillar: “One of the great joys that I was not expecting was the community that we would form as perpetual pilgrims.” And Seminarian Christoph Bernas shared, “All the little moments of joy that I get to share with all of my teammates make this pilgrimage so much fun.”

Pilgrimage event on the Juan Diego Route in Houma-Thibodaux, LA. Photo by Maegan Martin.
Pilgrimage event on the Juan Diego Route in Houma-Thibodaux, LA. Photo by Maegan Martin.

The Participants

The Perpetual Pilgrims aren’t the only ones experiencing community. Everywhere Our Lord goes, crowds of people are coming to meet him, whether from local parishes or neighboring towns—or even further away!

This week on the Marian Route, at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion near Green Bay, one participant drove over 70 miles to be a part of the Mass and procession. A local news outlet reported that she “felt incredibly connected with the attendees, something she had never been able to feel without taking a trip to Catholicism’s more historical roots overseas.”

In North Platte, Nebraska, the Serra Route visited McDaid Elementary School for a procession to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. A church volunteer shared, “We filled up McDaid Elementary and that was wonderful to see, all the people there and they came out with their hearts full and the Lord filled us even more… it was just a joyful and wonderful day celebrating our faith with each other and God.”

Congregants gathered inside a beautiful church during Eucharistic adoration
Eucharistic adoration on the Marian Route

The Church

Something that both Perpetual Pilgrims and local participants are experiencing is a sense of connection and community with the larger Church. A pastor joining the Juan Diego Route for a procession in Mississippi shared with a local news station that “We’re united in the walk as we realize that Jesus is in charge of our nation… we’re all walking together and realizing that Jesus is our King, and in that shared experience we realize that we’re all united in this walk of Christian faith together.”

In Wisconsin, one participant drove over 100 miles to bring her five children to take part in a procession, which included a boat procession on Shawano Lake and a walk to nearby Camp Tekakwitha. She shared with a local news outlet, “I was glad for them to be here with me, and feel the solidarity of our tradition and our history reaffirming that Jesus is the Eucharist… Just that feeling that you are part of the true church.”

On the Serra Route, the Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island in Nebraska described the Pilgrimage as “something that really galvanizes the Catholic community but also reaches out to former Catholics and allows them to have a sense of the church they grew up in.”

Stay updated on the Pilgrimage at the Pilgrims’ Digest blog, and be sure to register for one of the free Pilgrimage events in a diocese near you. And if you’re unable to attend in person, you can still share your prayer intentions with the Perpetual Pilgrims and plan your own pilgrimage.

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