Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer
May 30, 2017 // Local

‘Holy Spirits:’ A pilgrimage on the Bourbon Trail

Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer

The office of Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend was awarded a renewable grant by the Friends of Young Adult Ministries for outreach to young adults who might not otherwise consider or attend church events. FOYAM looked for new, creative programs within young adult ministry to reach out in evangelization.

Originally designed as the fundraising arm of young adult ministry in the Diocese of Chicago, FOYAM branched out to support innovative programs in other dioceses in 2015. It is realistic in that the leaders understand not every new program will be successful, but they desire to help promote creative, new ideas.

The group is supported by individuals who graciously chose to give back after receiving much from young adult ministry in their own lives.

Excited about this opportunity, Sean Allen, director of Young Adult Ministry in the South Bend area, said the grant is allocated for a novel upcoming pilgrimage this summer. Called “Holy Spirits,” the pilgrimage will travel along the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky, visiting local distilleries, monastic life and even possibly a ghost tour. From Friday through Sunday afternoon, July 7-9, the pilgrimage has 28 spots available, subsidized as a result of FOYAM’s generous grant.

Thanks to a grant from the Friends of Young Adult Ministry, young people from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend can embark on a pilgrimage to Bourbon country that will focus on the power of the Holy Spirit.

“There is an explicit faith aspect with a fun, relaxed aspect of the pilgrimage, similar to that of a Theology on Tap,” Allen explained. He said FOYAM really asked young adult ministry to “be particularly creative and to reach beyond what had be done before … not just the ‘same old’ program.”

The pilgrimage is organized by Verso Ministries, a new pilgrimage group from South Bend begun by John Paul Lichon. The name of the trip is a purposeful play on a three-fold usage of “Holy Spirit(s).”  First of all the pilgrims will be journeying through out the weekend with the guidance and grace of the Holy Spirit. They will also be offered quiet, silent, personal reflection and prayer time to listen and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The pilgrims, led by Lichon, will visit the Abbey of Gethsemani, the Cistercian monastery where Thomas Merton was famously a monk. There they will pray the liturgy of the hours with the monks and be present in a quiet place of contemplation.

“Our hope in going there is that pilgrims can model their lives with (such) contemplation,” Lichon explained. “Everyone will be given their own time to reflect, walk and explore the Abbey.”

One of stops on the pilgrimage will be the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani monastery, at which theologian Thomas Merton dedicated himself to the religious life.

Secondly, the pilgrimage will visit two local bourbon distilleries, 4 Roses and Buffalo Trace. There they will able to learn about the process of making spirits as well as sample some of the bourbon. Thirdly, there will be an optional, late-evening ghost tour at one of the distilleries, which pilgrims can choose to attend.

Beautiful, ancient mountains, verdant forests will surround the pilgrims on their weekend adventure. They will stay at a spacious, log home tucked away in the woods outside of Franklin, traveling together by van to build community and a fun road trip experience. There will be two departure sites, one in South Bend and one in Fort Wayne, which will join together in Kentucky on the Trail. These options also make this as affordable and accessible to as many young people as possible.

“This will be different than your typical church event,” Lichon explained speaking about this new pilgrimage. “We will combine a wonderful time at a holy place with fun, much like own our lives.” They will also visit Bardstown, Ky., and St. Joseph Proto Cathedral, the first cathedral west of the Allegany Mountains, historically important in the 1800s. On Sunday, for the obligation of Holy Mass, the pilgrims will stop at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville, Ky.

Young adults age 21-39 are invited to renew their spirit on this pilgrimage, which explores the intersection of faith and culture and provides spiritual and physical refreshment.

The registration fee includes transportation from South Bend or Fort Wayne, lodging, preparation materials, all activities and some meals. Pricing is set at $175. Visit for information and registration.

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