Road Journal, Week 7: The Fire of Faith Spreads

July 5, 2024

From public squares to prison walls, from humid treks to air-conditioned chapels, thousands of people are following Our Lord as the Pilgrimage gets closer to Indianapolis.

Marian Route

The Pilgrimage began its time in the Archdiocese of Chicago at Mundelein Seminary, the location of the 1926 National Eucharistic Congress. Over 1,200 participants came for a Mass especially geared towards youth, followed by a procession around the picturesque campus.

Simultaneous Eucharistic cultural events took place in and around the city, followed by a morning of service at multiple locations throughout the Chicagoland area. Concluding its time in Chicago, the Pilgrimage attended Sunday Mass and a Eucharistic procession with Cardinal Blaise Cupich at Holy Name Cathedral, followed by another Mass and procession with the Syro-Malabar community in the evening. Lorelie Flores of Chicago’s western suburbs attended the Mass at Holy Name Cathedral and processed with the Eucharist for the first time. She described the experience to OSV News: “I’m so happy and it’s very overwhelming because I truly believe that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.”

Eucharistic procession outside Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago
Eucharistic procession outside Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago – photo by Chicago Catholic

The Pilgrimage crossed the border into Indiana the following day, entering the Diocese of Gary for a procession leading to a party on the beach at Whiting Lakefront Park. Continuing through the diocese, the Pilgrimage processed nearly thirty miles along the Old Savannah Trail and Prairie Duneland Trail.

Matthew Heidenreich, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims on the Marian Route, shared with the National Catholic Register that “it’s been such a blessing… I get to watch revival happening in front of me. It’s filled me with so much hope just to see the way that people are responding to the pilgrims and responding to Jesus Christ.”

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route

The Seton Route visited the Pickaway Correctional Institute in Ohio for a private Mass and procession with prisoners, staff, and representatives from the Diocese of Columbus. One of the inmates told The Catholic Times how special it was to have the Pilgrimage visit: “It helps us realize that there are people out there who do care about us, they haven’t forgotten about us. It’s uplifting. It’s good for the spirit.” Dominic Carstens, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims who visited the prison, shared, “... finding people that love the Lord so much… so deeply shows that the love of Christ can get through any wall and gate.”

Crowd walking down the street in a Eucharistic procession
Eucharistic procession in Pickerington, OH – photo by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish

The Pilgrimage also visited St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Pickerington, Ohio, a church that shares the saint name of the route! There, Fr. Roger Landry, the chaplain for the Seton Route, celebrated 25 years as a priest. Reflecting on the Pilgrimage, Fr. Landry shared with OSV News that “the pilgrimage of Christian life is in fact a Eucharistic procession, because Christ himself accompanies us each day… in the holy Eucharist” and that the processions on the Pilgrimage thus far are “also part of the church’s pilgrimage through time, not to Indianapolis, but to the eternal Jerusalem.”

St. Juan Diego Route

In the Diocese of Nashville, the Pilgrimage processed between three of Nashville’s oldest Catholic churches: Assumption Catholic Church, St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows, and St. Patrick Catholic Church. St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows is one of the first Catholic church buildings constructed in Tennessee and the oldest existing church in downtown Nashville. Although the temperature was in the 90s, over 1,000 people participated in the 4-mile procession, bearing public witness to the Catholic faith in an area of the country that’s predominantly Protestant. Catholic News Agency reported that one resident said “the turnout was ‘extraordinary’” and “the interactions with the community during the procession were ‘one of overwhelming joy and peace and real welcome.’”

Outdoor Eucharistic procession in Nashville with people carrying flags
Eucharistic procession in Nashville – photo by St. Edward Church and School

Dominican sisters from the local St. Cecilia Motherhouse also participated in the procession. Sister Marian Thayer shared with Catholic News Agency that “it’s incredibly inspiring to see the young people and the families here [showing their] love for Jesus.” A Nashville resident commented, “I hope that souls will see [the procession] and be moved [by it].” Some of those souls included people on Nashville’s party buses and bikes as the procession passed through Printer’s Alley and down First Avenue—the city’s popular nightclub and bar scenes.

At the Pilgrimage’s last stop in the diocese, Bishop Spalding celebrated Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. After Mass, a solemn Eucharistic procession took place through downtown Nashville with the Knights of Columbus and the Nashville Dominican Sisters.

St. Junipero Serra Route

The Serra Route of the Pilgrimage made its way through Missouri this week, stopping in Kansas City for adoration at the historical Black Catholic church of St. Monica’s. Then, the young adults of the City on a Hill organization hosted the Pilgrimage for adoration with both Archbishop Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and Bishop Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. On July 1, the Pilgrimage processed with Our Lord for 9 miles along the Katy Trail in Missouri before entering the Diocese of Jefferson City and continuing on the same trail for another 12.5 miles! The Pilgrimage also visited several bilingual events in English and Spanish, including Masses, adoration, and processions.

Eucharistic procession at Benedictine College in Kansas
Eucharistic procession at Benedictine College in Kansas – photo by Benedictine College

There’s still time to participate in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage! Register for one or more of the remaining events here. You can also still share your prayer intentions with the Perpetual Pilgrims. If you’re not able to participate in the Pilgrimage in person, you can make a pilgrimage of your own in your hometown.

Header photo by Damian Chlanda

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