INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- At 80,
Holy Cross Brother Larry Stewart plans to walk and bike a 320-mile pilgrimage
that is close to his heart and his faith.
It's a journey that will honor
the spirit of the Holy Cross men who traveled through Indiana during a brutal
early winter 175 years ago to establish the University of Notre Dame.
Brother Larry hopes to
participate in the entire pilgrimage, which began Aug. 13, goes through Aug. 26
and is being called the "Notre Dame Trail" -- recalling a journey that began
long ago in the Diocese of Vincennes, where the roots of the Archdiocese of
"It's just a thrill to take part
in the history of this," said Brother Larry, who was looking for a new
challenge after completing coast-to-coast bicycle rides across the United
States when he was 60 and 70. "I've always enjoyed a challenge."
This one is far more meaningful
to him as it salutes Holy Cross Father Edward Sorin and the Holy Cross brothers
who traveled with him from France to the United States -- and those who forged
onward from Vincennes to South Bend on a journey that led to the founding of
Notre Dame in 1842.
"That journey was unbelievable,"
said Brother Larry, one of 32 people who signed up to do the entire pilgrimage.
"When they were traveling to South Bend in November, it was one of the worst
winters in the history of Indiana. And they made it in 11 days. They had
horses, oxen and wagons. They traveled one day 11 miles in the snow. And the
snow was a foot deep.
"Father Sorin had a great
devotion to Our Lady, and he showed it with the golden dome and the statue of
the Blessed Mother atop it," he added in an interview with The Criterion,
newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese.
Notre Dame wants to honor that
faith, that spirit and that determination as it celebrates its 175th
anniversary. And the pilgrimage is a major part of that effort.
"We wanted to do something
distinct -- to focus on our humble beginnings, but to also look to the future,"
said Katherine Lane, senior director of the Notre Dame Trail.
Even with all the changes that
have occurred on the campus in 175 years, "the mission of the place is still
the same as it was when Father Sorin founded it," Lane said. "Father Sorin
wrote that 'the university would be a means for good in this nation.' That
mission has been carried out since the beginning, and so has the devotion to
Preparation for the pilgrimage
has been painstaking in its detail.
In June 2016, Lane was among a
group of five people who traveled to Spain to walk the ancient pilgrimage route
known as the "Camino" in Spanish and "the Way" in English. The journey of 780
kilometers -- or about 500 miles -- eventually leads to the shrine of St. James
at Santiago de Compostela.
Lane and her companions walked
100 kilometers of the Camino, enough to get a sense of the demands of such a
journey -- and the emphasis they wanted to give to the Notre Dame Trail.
"They call the Camino 'the Way
of St. James,'" she told The Criterion. "The Notre Dame Trail will be 'the Way
Returning to Indiana, Lane began
walking the route for the Notre Dame Trail, following a path that begins in
Vincennes and weaves north through Terre Haute, Lafayette, Logansport and
Plymouth before ending on the Notre Dame campus.
"I walked the whole trail last
summer to make sure it could be done," Lane recalled. "Indiana is so beautiful
with its landscapes, the water, and there are hills. I found it challenging -- a
lot of blisters, a lot of wear and tear on the body.
"While it will be a physical
challenge, it will also be a spiritual journey," she said. "There
will be a lot of time for reflection and prayer. It's been a beautiful
experience so far. I've really fallen in love with the trail."
She also gained a deeper
appreciation of Father Sorin and the Holy Cross brothers who made the original
"They had this faith in God and
this devotion to Mary like no other," she said. "They were so determined. No
one was going to get in his way."
Brother Larry embodies that same
spirit for her.
"He's celebrating his 60th
jubilee, and the pilgrimage is how he has chosen to do this," Lane said.
Brother Larry began preparing
for the Notre Dame Trail last October, doing training sessions of eight miles
of walking and 21 miles on a bike.
"With all my walking and
training, I use my fingers for saying the rosary," said Brother Larry, who has
a bachelor's degree in premedicine and a master's degree from Notre Dame. "All
of us in the Holy Cross congregation have a strong devotion to the Blessed
Mother. She was an inspiration for Father Sorin and all the brothers who came.
So I'm pleased to be involved in this."
On the last day of the trail -- Aug.
26 -- Notre Dame is inviting its students, alumni, parents and other supporters
to join the pilgrimage for the last three miles to campus. After the pilgrimage
reaches Notre Dame that morning, a Mass will be celebrated to mark the 175th
anniversary. Lane said well over 2,000 had already registered for the final
day, "and we're hoping for thousands more."
Brother Larry plans to make his
own special tribute on the last day of the pilgrimage. He will visit the
gravesites of Father Sorin and the six Holy Cross brothers who came with him
from France to America -- Brothers Vincent Pieau, Joachim Andre, Lawrence Menage,
Anselm Caillot, Gatian Monsimer and Francis Xavier Patoy. He will place images
of each of them by their graves at the congregation's cemetery on the Notre
"I'm pushing for the brothers
getting equal billing," said Brother Larry, who works as the archivist for the
Midwest Province of the Holy Cross congregation. "They need the same degree of
honor that Father Sorin is getting."
about the Notre Dame Trail is available at www.trail.nd.edu.