By Stephanie Petrie
What do Bardstown, Kentucky, the Abbey of Gethsemani and the Bourbon Trail all have in common? First, they are all in located in the Holy Lands of Kentucky; but second, and more importantly, all three will be featured on the upcoming Holy Spirits Pilgrimage on Friday, June 7, through Sunday, June 9.
This pilgrimage, which is a collaboration of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Young Adult Ministry and Verso Ministries, made its debut in summer 2017. In it, young adults in the diocese are offered the chance to explore the intersection of faith and culture, sacred and profane, spiritual and physical refreshment.
All young adults over the age of 21 (at time of departure) are invited to be a part of this pilgrimage, which Sean Allen, director of Young Adult Ministry for the diocese, describes as “a fantastic way to get away from the daily routine to recharge, reflect on life, and refocus.”
While exploring the history and spirits of the Bourbon Trail, with tours and tastings at local distilleries, pilgrims will be invited to pray at the Abbey of Gethsemani, the monastery of Thomas Merton, and visit the Merton Hermitage with Brother Gregory, a Trappist monk. In addition to focusing on the world-famous history of Kentucky Bourbon and Thomas Merton, the group will discover the roots of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese with visits to St. Thomas Church and Bishop Flaget Log Home before celebrating Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Kentucky.
From barrel rooms stacked high with oak barrels to churches adorned in French art, the pilgrimage offers something for everyone. As a first-time pilgrim and novice bourbon drinker, Mariah Cressey shared that she was drawn to the Holy Spirits Pilgrimage by the definition of a pilgrim, or peregrinus: “someone who places himself or herself in a new place to be transformed.” Thinking back to her experience, Cressey said that “between observing (and my peer pilgrims praying) the Liturgy of the Hours with the monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani, visiting the hermitage of Thomas Merton, and finishing every sample of bourbon available, I also experienced the available space for discernment. That space wasn’t demanding. It was merely available. And that availability, like that of my peers’ honesty, was enough.”
The pilgrimage will depart from both Fort Wayne and South Bend on Friday morning and return Sunday evening. The pilgrimage package fee includes lodging at the Nazareth Retreat Center, preparation and follow-up materials, tours at Barton 1792 and Bourbon Heritage Center at Heaven Hill distilleries, and donations for Abbey of Gethsemani, Merton Hermitage, St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, St. Thomas Church and Bishop Flaget Log Home. Also included are some meals and gratuities, as well as the accompaniment of a dedicated guide. If pilgrims want to add a little more to their journey, they can add on the optional Bardstown Ghost Trek experience and Jim Beam distillery tour.
For more information visit http://www.diocesefwsb.org/yam-pilgrimages, and join fellow pilgrims for a trip that, as pilgrim Joe Reis reflected, will remind young people of “God’s abounding presence and how all things should lead us towards God not away from God.”
Stephanie Petrie is the pilgrimage coordinator for Verso Ministry.
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