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These are the young people who will walk 1000s of miles for the Eucharist

National Eucharistic Pilgrims with Bishop Cozzens

National Eucharstic Congress

John Burger - published on 03/12/24

24 "Perpetual Pilgrims" get ready to traverse combined 6,500 miles across America for the Eucharistic Revival.

Twenty-four young people have been accepted as “perpetual pilgrims” to walk a combined distance of 6,500 miles across America this spring to the National Eucharistic Congress.

The pilgrims’ names were announced by organizers of the Congress on Monday.

“After sifting through more than 100 applications and conducting multiple rounds of interviews and follow-up screenings, the National Eucharistic Congress is pleased to announce the core group of 24 individuals who have been selected to accompany Jesus in the Eucharist for the full duration of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage taking place May 17 to July 16, 2024,” the NEC said in a press release. “These Perpetual Pilgrims will travel a combined distance of over 6,500 miles, stopping at many holy sites along this unprecedented coast-to-coast pilgrimage modeled after the Gospel account of Jesus’ journey to Emmaus two millennia ago.”

Last October, the NEC invited young Catholics to apply to be Perpetual Pilgrims along four distinct routes destined for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress this summer in Indianapolis.

According to the routes they will travel, the pilgrims are:

  • Serra Route, beginning in San Francisco: Chima Adiole, Chas East, Patrick Fayad, Jack Krebs, Madison Michel, and Jaella Mac Au.
  • Marian Route, beginning in Bemidji, Minnesota: Sarah Cahill, Matthew Heidenreich, Danielle Schmitz, Jennifer Torres, Kai Weiss, and Megan Zaleski.
  • Seton Route, beginning in New Haven, Connecticut: Dominic Carstens, Zoe Dongas, Marina Frattaroli, Natalie Garza, Amayrani Higueldo, and Christopher Onyiuke.
  • Juan Diego Route, beginning in Brownsville, Texas: Camille Anigbogu, Shayla Elm, Issy Martin Dye, Charlie McCullough, Joshua Velasquez, and MacKenzie Warrens.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who chairs the National Eucharistic Revival, led an intensive three-day retreat for the Perpetual Pilgrims over Presidents’ Day weekend at the NET Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, along with priests who have media and pilgrimage experience and NEC staff. 

“I am humbled by the commitment demonstrated by those selected to serve as Perpetual Pilgrims this summer,” said Will Peterson, President and Founder of Modern Catholic Pilgrim, the official pilgrimage partner of the National Eucharistic Congress. “Their excitement at serving as stewards of this unprecedented National Eucharistic Pilgrimage shook the walls at our kickoff retreat. I cannot wait for the rest of the U.S. Catholic Church to walk with our Eucharistic Lord alongside these amazing individuals.”

Diverse lot with a common thread

More than half of the Perpetual Pilgrims are graduate or undergraduate students. Some are serving in mission-oriented apostolates and nonprofits. A common thread for all was a profound encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist that they were inspired to share with others.

Kai Weiss, a German native who is currently a graduate student in theology in Washington, D.C., and part of the Marian Route team, said,

“This will be a once-in-a-life adventure. On one hand, I’m excited to participate in this pilgrimage because it will be a unique experience to approach Jesus in the Eucharist more closely. We will walk with Him all day every day for two straight months. When does that ever happen? On the other hand, I hope that Jesus can sanctify this land through the procession and bring this polarized country closer together once more.” 

Shayla Elm, part of the Juan Diego team, works as a Community Engagement Manager for a non-profit organization that serves the homeless community in Denver. She said,

“I am eager to be a Perpetual Pilgrim, as I have been set on fire by our Eucharistic Lord. This pilgrimage will be a witness to our age that Jesus is real, that He wants to know you personally, and that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. I hope that this pilgrimage invites many participants to encounter Him on the way.”

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Pilgrims on each of the four routes will be accompanied by a rotating cadre of 30 Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Fr. Roger Landry, Catholic chaplain at Columbia University, will accompany the entire Seton Route.

Each day of the pilgrimage will be rooted in celebration of the Mass with a general schedule consisting of major solemn processions on Sundays, with Mass and smaller processions at parishes during the week.

Pilgrims will travel 10-15 miles each day. A support vehicle will transport pilgrims for legs of the journey in which safety, terrain, and/or climate may present obstacles. In addition to daily Mass, parishes along the way will host Adoration, 40 Hours devotions, praise and worship services, lectures on the Eucharist, pilgrim testimonies, meals, and fellowship.

Biblical hospitality will be offered on the routes via host families, parishes, religious orders, schools, shrines, and retreat centers.

Requirements to become a Perpetual Pilgrim included being a baptized and practicing Catholic between the ages of 19-29, in good physical condition, capable of walking long distances, and committed to upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church. Ministry background with service, leadership, and pilgrimage experience were of special interest. 

The Perpetual Pilgrims receive weekly Zoom formation sessions with theology faculty from the Augustine Institute, National Eucharistic Congress Chief Executive Officer Tim Glemkowski, experts on the patron saints of the routes, Carmelites discussing prayer, and a deacon with special expertise in organizing Eucharistic processions.

Eucharistic RevivalPilgrimagesSpiritual Life
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