Pilgrimages Invite Participation of Others Along the Way
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
April 25, 2024
UNITED STATES—Catholics across the U.S. are invited to participate in activities happening along the routes of any of the four Eucharistic pilgrimages that will begin in mid-May from four points north, south, east and west and converge in Indianapolis at the beginning of July’s National Eucharistic Congress.
The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is an opportunity for American Catholics everywhere to physically embody our nation’s journey of Eucharistic Revival. All are invited to be a part of this journey.
There are four Eucharistic pilgrimage routes:
1  The Serra Route begins May 19 with Mass at the cathedral in San Francisco.
2  The Seton Route begins May 18 at the tomb of Bl. Michael McGivney in New Haven, Conn.
3  The Juan Diego Route starts May 19 in the Diocese of Brownsville in Texas.
4  The Marian Route is the one closest to the Diocese of Rockford. It will begin May 19 from Crookston, MN and travel through Wisconsin and Illinois (Archdiocese of Chicago) and northern Indiana. It is named for its planned visit to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion, the first and only approved Marian Apparition site in the U.S., located a bit north and east of Green Bay.
The four routes will travel through 27 states and 65 dioceses with a combined 6,500 miles on foot with the help of support vehicles. Each route has highlighted locations, and service projects will be part of activities in cities such as Chicago and Lafayette, Ind.
Pilgrims will attend Mass every day of their journey and enjoy regular evenings of reflection and adoration. They will visit parishes and shrines large and small. 
All four routes and details of the stops along the way can be accessed at www.eucharisticpilgrimage.org
Additionally, a one-page Eucharistic Mini-Pilgrimage Guide is available from the pilgrimage website. It offers steps that individuals, families, and groups can take to make their time accompanying part of the national pilgrimage (or designing their own little pilgrimages) smoother and more spiritual. That begins with deciding on one’s pilgrimage destination and time frame, special intentions, spiritual preparation … and so on.
There also are resources at that website that are specifically geared to families with kids, including a pilgrimage passport and suggested activities.
Certain segments of the pilgrimages may not be open to the public for safety reasons. Some days will include driving, particularly on longer routes and in harsh weather conditions. Evening events will be hosted by a parish, shrine, religious order and so on. Saturdays are days for service projects.
Pilgrims excited
A few of the 24 chosen young pilgrims who will spend almost two months accompanying the Eucharist from place to place shared their thoughts in a March 21 webinar for the Catholic press.
Some of these young men and women have jobs; others are undergraduates or graduate students working on a variety of degrees at various colleges. Father Roger Landry is the pilgrimage chaplain who will accompany the Seton Route, and Father Malacy Joseph Napier of the Capuchin Friars of the Renewal (CFR) will be joined along the way by 30 rotating Franciscan Friars of the Renewal who will provide spiritual support.
Kai Weiss will travel the Marian Route. From Germany, he came to the U.S. in 2021 and is a graduate student in theology at the Dominican House of Studies near the Catholic University of America.
“I can’t wait for this pilgrimage,” Weiss says. “The main reason is the Eucharist. (It will be) a way to grow close to Christ in the Eucharist. I hope this pilgrimage can bring great blessings to this country. I love this country so much … I really hope that Jesus … can bring healing to all the polarization and division in this country. Something much more important than that can bring us all together: Jesus in the Eucharist!”
Jaella Mac Au will be on the Serra Route. She’s from Georgia and is soon to graduate with a degree in Human Development and Family Science.
“The Lord was so gentle,” she says of her decision to apply to be a pilgrim. “He was inviting me to a new adventure; he desires to invite His people into His own security (and) wishes to reveal Himself. I’m very excited, very honored to be a part of this.”
Nashville native Zoe Dongas is currently working in ministry in New York City. She is on the Seton Route.
“The idea to be able to go on an adventure like this with Jesus in the Eucharist … sounds like a dream. (We’ll) get to see all of the blessings and graces that the Lord wants to bring,” she says.
Shayla Elm will travel the Juan Diego Route. She is from North Dakota and now lives in Denver and works for Christ in the City.
“I’m very excited to be a perpetual pilgrim,” she says. “Part of this call is this zeal for Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist … I’m very excited to not only walk with our Lord … but to bring this love, this zeal to people we meet … to encounter those we’ll meet along the way … I have heard of many dioceses and parishes ready for us to come through.”
Father Landry had “pestered” Bishop Andrew Cozzens about arranging for a pilgrimage to the Congress. 
“In the history of the Church, there have been lots of pilgrimages, but never a Eucharistic pilgrimage quite like this where the Eucharist is brought across the country. It is a first,” Father Landry says.
Father Malachy admits that when he first heard about the pilgrimage, “in my heart there was a little friar jumping up and down. I can’t think of a better thing to do than to bring (the world) to Christ. I really believe that God wants to be lifted up, carried by a priest in the street.”
He notes the pilgrimages will make “an intentional cross … blessing this country (like a) massive-wide benediction.”
Pilgrimage planner, Will Peterson, talked about the logistics of the pilgrimages, saying they’ll drive sections that are not safe to walk and that they have someone who works for the National Weather Service who is working to be able to provide a tailor-made forecast for each route each day. There may be “mobile adoration in the vans during drives,” he says, adding that pilgrims will just carry a daypack and water each day — the support vehicle will carry the gear. Coordinators are following sports guidelines regarding lightning and heat, he says, concluding, “We’re not going to put people in harm’s way.”
Another neat thing: The Augustine Institute is providing pilgrims with business-sized cards with a QR code that will take questioners to a page that explains about the Eucharist.
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