May 23, 2023 // Diocese
Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic Pilgrimage to Go from Fort Wayne to South Bend
About a hundred miles walked in Indiana in early June will pave the road to bring Jesus to the streets of the entire country next July.
From Sunday, June 4, to Corpus Christi Sunday, June 11, walkers will cover part or all of the distance between Fort Wayne’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and South Bend’s St. Matthew Cathedral in the Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic Pilgrimage, said Chris Langford, Point Person for the Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
“A Eucharistic Pilgrimage gives public witness to our faith and the Eucharistic Lord,” Langford said. Missionary sending, he said, is one of the four pillars of the National Revival, noting that it makes sense to have a procession as it literally takes Jesus out into the world. This year, Corpus Christi closes the Diocesan Year of the National Eucharistic Revival and starts the Parish Year.
Each day of the event across the diocese, a solemn procession will cover the first mile in full ceremony with candles, incense, and more, with the following mileage covered as a minor procession where celebrants may wear lighter albs to avoid heat-related health problems. Modern Catholic Pilgrim (MCP), a non-profit organization, will plan and execute both the local and national events, handling logistics from safe route formation to legal considerations. MCP was hired by the National Eucharistic Congress, working in concert with them to lead the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage initiative.
“The executive teams of the National Eucharistic Congress and the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage were excited to have the opportunity to work with Bishop Rhoades, especially with his experience on the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis,” said Will Peterson, President and Founder of MCP. “Also, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend provides a unique opportunity to make a pilgrimage between two co-cathedrals, which makes for extremely fitting starting and ending points.”
Those interested in participation for this year’s event are welcome. “For this June, we’ve already identified a core team of pilgrims who will walk the entirety of the route,” Peterson said. “But all are welcome to attend a morning Mass with the pilgrims, walk the first mile of the day with them, attend an evening event at a parish, or come to either cathedral for the opening or closing Masses.”
No matter how one chooses to participate, Peterson sees the faith in the activity. “The Catholic faith is built on the encounter with Christ and the missioning that comes out of that encounter,” he said. “This Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic Pilgrimage and the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage provide opportunities for that encounter. Both pilgrimages also serve as opportunities to engage Catholics in the core tenet of the Catholic faith that Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Father Stephen Felicichia, Associate Pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton, Fort Wayne, will be the main chaplain through the entire eight days of the event, with other clergy also participating.
At the ending parish each day, an evening program will be held for the public at the host parish. According to documents provided by Langford, adoration, music, testimonials, or other forms of worship will be part of these experiences.
Accommodation will be provided by volunteers for core pilgrims doing the entire route, and is being organized by MCP. The hosts of these pilgrims supply an early breakfast in recognition of fasting requirements, the evening meal before a night’s public program, and a sack lunch for consumption during the day’s route. Overnight arrangements will utilize what is available to those who volunteer to host.
Many of the costs incurred are covered as a labor of love. “There are a few direct costs for materials and a rented support vehicle that our National Eucharistic Pilgrimage team is covering,” Peterson said. “The other costs would be the time volunteers and staffers from parishes commit, the costs of a parish hosting an evening event, and the costs to people hosting 2-3 young adults in their homes for a night along the route. The parishes where we are stopping and the hosts at those parishes have been generous in covering those costs.”
Specifically, the Pilgrimage begins on June 4 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, making its way to Headwaters Park about a mile away for a short program. Remaining mileage is then covered to land at the evening host parish of St. Patrick, Arcola. The next day, 12 miles will be covered, culminating at St. John Bosco in Churubusco for the night. Sixteen-and-a-half miles later, Albion’s Blessed Sacrament will host the group. Ligonier’s St. Patrick’s is a 13-mile hike the next day, followed by up to 20 miles to reach St. John the Evangelist in Goshen. Twelve miles later, St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Elkhart will be the stopping point. Next, Queen of Peace in Mishawaka will await the group after nine more miles. Finally, on Corpus Christi Sunday, eight miles will be covered before 11 a.m. with the Bishop waiting to celebrate Mass at St. Matthew in South Bend.
MCP will provide transportation back to the starting point for those completing the entire route, but otherwise, travel plans are the responsibility of the walker. It is also recommended that walkers bring sunscreen, a hat, umbrella, comfortable footwear, and water, Langford said. A support vehicle will be available in case of necessity.
Trailing at an appropriate distance, private face-to-face Confession will be available when multiple priests are available.
A longer pilgrimage will be held next year as part of the National Eucharistic Congress converging in Indianapolis in July. Peterson said they will be covering more than 6,500 miles, this time not all on foot, however. The larger walks will start on the weekend of Pentecost Sunday 2024 in San Francisco, California (Serra Route), New Haven, Connecticut (Seton Route), Bemiji/Lake Itasca, Minnesota (Marian Route), and Brownsville, Texas (Juan Diego Route), with scheduled arrival in Indianapolis just before the National Eucharistic Congress, Langford said.
Langford and the diocesan website indicated that anyone may participate, free of charge, in either the state or national walks. For more information or to sign up to participate in the Cross-Diocesan Pilgrimage, visit diocesefwsb.org/eucharist-events/#pilgrimage.
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