Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
June 13, 2023 // Bishop

Celebration with Bishop Rhoades Ends Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic Pilgrimage

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

“Together we walk the road to Emmaus side by side with the risen Christ. We hope everyone who walked a mile or the whole journey was rejuvenated in Christ and is set on fire to change your community,” said Will Peterson of Modern Catholic Pilgrim and organizer of the eight-day Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic Pilgrimage from Fort Wayne to South Bend from June 4 to June 11.

See all the photos from the Pilgrimage here.

The faithful from across the diocese had the chance to come together in faith, feel a strong sense of community and belonging, witness hospitality from people along the journey, and view God’s beauty in nature in a special Eucharistic Procession held in preparation for the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage set for the summer of 2024 across the United States as part of the National Eucharistic Revival.

DAY 1: Following the opening Mass of the eight-day Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic Procession on Sunday, June 4, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Father Stephen Felicichia of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne carries the monstrance down the nave as he leaves the church, bound for the St. Mother Theodore Guerin Chapel next door in a solemn procession for the praying of a Eucharistic Holy Hour of Adoration.

“Last Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, after Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Father Stephen Felicichia carried the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a group of the faithful, to St. Patrick Church in Arcola, thus beginning a Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic procession and pilgrimage. This past week, people joined the procession as it moved then from Arcola to Churubusco, then on to Albion, Ligonier, Goshen, Elkhart, Mishawaka, and ending the 100-mile trek this morning here at St. Matthew Cathedral on this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi,” said Bishop Rhoades at the closing Mass in South Bend.

Bishop Rhoades continued, “Father Stephen and all who processed with him the whole 100 miles or part of those miles walked with the Lord through streets, on sidewalks and fields, stopping at parish churches each night, celebrating Mass and Adoration daily, reaching the end of the pilgrimage here today on this feast when the Church celebrates with special devotion the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. I pray that this cross-diocesan pilgrimage, which has been a pilot preparation for the National Eucharistic Pilgrimages next July, will bring many blessings to our diocese. A week from tomorrow, Bishop Andrew Cozzens and I will be meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, God-willing if the Holy Father recovers well from his recent surgery, where he will bless the monstrance that will be used at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis next July.”

DAY 2: Pilgrims join Father Felicichia for part of the 12-mile Eucharistic Procession going from Arcola to Churubusco.

The journey had a core group of four people with as many as 80 people who would join from time to time along the way. Some came to Mass and walked a few miles, while others joined at different points of the route.

“Seeing people go down to their knees in their front yard as we walk by and then go to the parish was impactful,” said Peterson. “The hospitality of people in the diocese has been tremendous.”

Each day, the core team walked their specified distance with other pilgrims. At the end of the day, they had the chance to enjoy delicious meals provided by parishes and parishioners, celebrate in prayer through Mass, and rest at parish sites or in the homes of generous participants. A big concern, and at times a big obstacle of the trip, was the route. So, every evening, the planning team would scout the route and make sure it was obstacle free and safe for the walkers. Sometimes, tweaks to the route were needed to ensure a safe terrain for pilgrims.

DAY 3: Deacon Roger Dinius swings the thurible of incense ahead of the pilgrims and the monstrance during the 16.5-mile procession from Churubusco to Albion.

Participants joined the pilgrimage for many different reasons, some with family and friends and others walked solo. Many could only participate in part of the journey because of work or family commitments but spent as much time possible in prayer and adoration of the Eucharist.

Eric Bradley joined the group at St. Vincent de Paul in Elkhart with his three-year-old son Luke. His 13-year-old son did the 12-mile walk from St. John the Evangelist in Goshen the day before, inspiring dad to join. “It’s good to take Jesus to the streets,” said Bradley. “My son said it was very moving.”

DAY 4: Pilgrims process through the streets as part of the 13 miles from Albion to Ligonier.

Anne Oliva, a Queen of Peace parishioner who attended the evening Mass at her church, found herself called to be part of the last mile of the journey. She and her daughter Catherine joined the 1.2-mile Solemn Procession that began at Veterans Memorial Park and ended at St. Matthew Cathedral. “I think it’s important to have a public procession about the Eucharist,” said Anne.

Catherine agreed and said, “It’s so important for us to make that public witness.” She was unable to attend more of the pilgrimage because of work commitments but had a wonderful evangelization moment as a result of the group passing her workplace and having the opportunity to explain to a colleague why people were walking past the building.

DAY 5: Day five of the eight-day Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic Procession is the longest for Father Felicichia and the pilgrims as they cover 20 miles on Thursday, June 8.

“I hope people get a strengthening of our faith and a deeper meaning of our faith, that we are not alone, and that God is always with us,” said Anne. She said that she is so happy the diocese is doing something like this with the community. She noted that in older times, people went on pilgrimages to pray for safety during times of war and division. With all the tough times happening in our world, she feels this is something society needs. “Maybe this will add protection to our area,” said Anne.

Read Bishop Rhoades’ Homily here.

During the homily at Mass, Bishop Rhoades shared, “When we are properly disposed and open our hearts to the graces of Holy Communion, we are transformed into what we receive. Nourished by the Eucharist, the capacity of our souls to love, even to love our enemies and to forgive injuries, grows. It is not an accident that Christ gave the ‘new commandment’ to love one another as He has loved us, right after giving the disciples their first Holy Communion.”

DAY 6: Father Felicichia leads day six of the Eucharistic Procession on Friday, June 9, following Mass at St. John the Evangelist in Goshen.

He continued, “At Mass, we meet Jesus on Calvary. And we are joined to His sacrifice of love for the redemption of the world.  We unite our lives, our praise, sufferings, prayers, and works with those of Christ and His total offering of Himself. Then, in Holy Communion, we receive His Body given up for us and His Blood poured out for us. We enter into profound communion with Jesus who nourishes and strengthens us to live in His love and to bear witness to His love in the world. We do this not only as individuals but also as His Body, the Church, bound together by the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that makes us one body in Christ. It is no wonder that Saint Augustine, before the greatness of this mystery, exclaimed: ‘O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity!  O bond of charity!’”

DAY 7: Father Felicichia leads the pilgrims across Prairie Street as he carries the monstrance under canopy during the 9-mile procession from Elkhart to Mishawaka.

Bishop Rhoades ended his homily by saying, “My brothers and sisters, this is how Jesus builds up His Church — through the Eucharist, He transforms us into unity with Himself and with one another. On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we give thanks for the great gift of this new manna from heaven. May we always receive Holy Communion with humility, properly disposed, with reverence and adoration, and with love and devotion.”

DAY 8: Bishop Rhoades celebrates Mass to end the eight-day Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic Procession at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend on Corpus Christi Sunday, June 11.

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