If there’s one thing that’s certain in this life, it’s that we’re all walking on our own journey with the Lord. Some days the road will be akin to scaling the Matterhorn. Other days it will be a free-and-easy downhill trot. The key to success — i.e., eternal life — though, is to be open and let God lead you where he wants you to go.
These “personal pilgrimages” have been a bit of a theme lately. This week’s In Focus (Pages 9-12) features a multitude of people who have been walking a 20-year path that began in Denver at World Youth Day in 1993. A couple, now parents of eight kids, recalls how they met on the pilgrimage’s first day. Priests and religious testify to the seeds that were planted for their vocations. Their stories witness the beautiful fruits that are possible from that time filled with spiritual, catechetical and relational opportunities. And they are a concrete reminder that World Youth Day doesn’t end with the closing Mass. Indeed, for many, the journey to Christ is just beginning.
Of course World Youth Day isn’t the only pilgrimage out there. In this week’s Faith story (Pages 14-15) Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller highlights four places of pilgrimage in the United States worth visiting: Mount St. Macrina in Uniontown, Pa.; El Santuario de Chimayo in Chimayo, N.M.; St. Bonaventure Chapel in Detroit; and Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa. Joanne DePont Sandoval, manager of El Santuario de Chimayo, said pilgrimages are a “physical, tangible” way to connect with the divine.
One of the ultimate pilgrimages is the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, in Spain. The Camino has been on my mind a lot lately as Santiago de Compostela (where the Camino trails end) was the site of last month’s deadly train crash. One of my former co-workers, Ana-Maria Cordoba, was one of the 79 who died. Her son, named Santiago, had just finished walking the Camino.
In the funeral Mass, Father Andrew Fisher, pastor of St. Ambrose Church in Annandale, Va., where Ana-Maria had been a parishioner, said, “she finished her pilgrimage, but in a different way.” We never know what God has planned.
The Camino came up again last weekend — I’m really hoping there’s not something to this! — when I attended Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Carmel, Ind. The pastor, Father Richard Doerr, is heading to Spain this week to begin his own Camino pilgrimage. Not only that, but he’s blogging about his journey. (My kind of priest.) As of Aug. 13, Father Doerr had already logged eight posts, and he hadn’t even left the country yet. If you want to read along, you can access it here: www.olmc1.org/fr-richards-blog. He’s funny and insightful, and it’s clear that by heading around the world for this journey, he’s doing what the Lord is asking of him. Which is inspiring.
Maybe a fall pilgrimage would be just the ticket. Recommendations? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.