Next May, Father Bob Garrow will walk in the footsteps of saints. He, along with some of his parishioners at St. Stanislaus Kostka in New Carlisle, are preparing to step back through time and explore the legacy of many Polish Catholics saints, both ancient and modern, through a pilgrimage to Poland in the spring.
Father Garrow said that he is embarking on this trip because, “In the last year, I have really felt a pull from God that I need to take people on pilgrimage to this Catholic country.”
With the Eucharistic Revival currently taking place, he found that this was a good time to fulfill his longtime dream to visit Poland. There will also be an emphasis on the Eucharist, as several Eucharistic miracles that have occurred in Poland are on the itinerary. Even learning more about his parish’s patron saint can help deepen devotion to the Eucharist, as St. Stanislaus Kostka “received the Eucharist many times miraculously,” Father Garrow stated.
In fact, the first location the pilgrims will stop at is a church with a connection to theirs: St. Stanislaus Kostka in Warsaw, both named for the 16th century Jesuit novice who was said to have received Communion from St. Barbara and two angels on his sick bed and was miraculously healed. St. Stanislaus Kostka is not the only saintly Pole that the group will contemplate on the trip, though. A better-known saint and one who is to be a central focus of the trip often prayed to St. Stanislaus Kostka – St. John Paul II. The pilgrimage includes visits to sites such as Karol Wojtyla’s birthplace as well as Krakow, where he studied for the priesthood and served as archbishop.
Another saint the group will encounter is St. Faustina Kowalska, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and the saint who instigated devotion to Jesus in the Divine Mercy. She was beatified and canonized by her fellow countryman, St. John Paul II.
The timing for the trip seems providential, as throughout the past year, Father Garrow has been taking online courses on St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy devotion. He even recently offered a course on the book “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told: Now is the Time of Mercy” by Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC. “Throughout the episodes,” Father Garrow stated, “it discusses the Polish culture and the trials and tribulations they have gone through yet have remained faithful to God.”
One such tribulation was the Holocaust, in which Poland became a major target for “cleansing” by the Nazis, and this trip to Poland includes memorializing those who lost their lives for the Catholic faith. Father Garrow’s group will visit Auschwitz to pay tribute to one of the most famous saints of the Holocaust, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and others who perished there.
With a love for the Polish culture, it also made sense for Father Garrow to lead a group from a parish dedicated to a Polish saint and an area of Indiana where many can trace their lineage back to that nation. “Our parish has a long-standing tradition with many of the parishioners’ family ancestry originating from Poland. What a wonderful chance for those who can go, to experience this Catholic culture, the food, the people, and learn more about some of the great saints of our modern times.”
As the purpose of a pilgrimage is to grow in love and devotion to God, learning about the lives of the saints and how to walk in the footsteps of those closest to Him can help a person increase in holiness.
There are other saints and blesseds whom Father Garrow and company will encounter on the journey, providing opportunities to grow in friendship with these holy men and women. This in turn can help deepen the faith lives of the pilgrims themselves.
For more information on Father Garrow’s pilgrimage to Poland in May, visit www.canterburypilgrimages.com. To join the pilgrimage, email [email protected] or call 800-653-0017.
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