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What would you hope from 2 months with the Eucharist?

Young adults hiking through the mountains

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John Burger - published on 03/22/24

24 Catholic young adults are preparing to walk to National Eucharistic Congress from north, east, south, and west. They tell us about their expectations.

Four of the 24 “perpetual pilgrims” who are set to walk across America this summer carrying the Eucharistic Christ with them discussed their hopes and expectation for the event during a media Zoom call Thursday.

The young adult Catholics, who are in their 20s, hail from all parts of the country and a couple of foreign countries. Some will have to take time off from their jobs for the two-month-long pilgrimage, while many are students and will already have the summer off. 

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

Both events will cap a three-year Eucharistic Revival that the US bishops have been leading, in response to recent public opinion surveys indicating a loss of faith in or understanding of the Eucharist.

Bring graces back

Shayla Elm said she was hesitant to request time off to do the pilgrimage but was pleasantly surprised when her employer, Christ in the City, a Catholic outreach to the homeless in Denver, agreed that “it would be the best for me, the Church, and ultimately would bring graces back to Christ in the City.” 

But she will be making the sacrifice of not being able to attend three weddings of friends — in addition to the fact that her best friend is expected to give birth this summer. She promised to pray for all of them from the pilgrimage route.

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, in conjunction with local dioceses, has planned a number of Masses, Eucharistic processions, and other events in which people can participate.

Kai Weiss, a native of Germany who is studying at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., said that in addition to his expectation that the pilgrimage will be a “wonderful way to grow closer to Christ in the Eucharist,” he hopes the effort will also help bring healing to a country that he sees as seriously divided.

“I really hope that this pilgrimage can bring great blessings also for this country,” he said. “I love this country so much. I’m so thankful to be here. At the same time, I have to admit that there’s tension and polarization, and I really hope that Jesus, whom so many Americans will encounter this summer, can bring healing to all of the polarization and division that exists in this country.”

Chaplains of the road

Also participating in the media call were two priests, Fr. Roger Landry, chaplain at Columbia University in New York, who will be walking the entire northeastern route from New Haven, Connecticut, to Indianapolis; and Fr. Malachy Joseph Napier, who is coordinating fellow Franciscan Friars of the Renewal to serve as chaplains along the way of the other routes.

Fr. Landry, who will be celebrating his 25th anniversary of ordination during the pilgrimage, said that he looks forward to the times when he will be able to carry the Eucharistic Host inside a monstrance at various points. He said that often a Host is not quite the same size as the glass “luna” that holds the Eucharist inside the monstrance. 

“So there’s normally a sliver [of clear glass] on the top of the Host, and if you hold the monstrance at a specific spot, you can actually see through the Eucharist,” the priest said. On the other side, everyone in the congregation is gazing on the Host. “So, looking at our country through a Eucharistic lens, asking the Lord Jesus to bless everybody along that route is such a great joy for me.”

Fr. Malachy also spoke of the pilgrimage — which will consist of routes coming from the four compass points and converging in the center — in terms of a Benediction.

“We’re in fact making this intentional sign of the cross over the country,” he said. “Literally, we are blessing this nation with our Lord in the Eucharist. It’s like this massive, nationwide Benediction. That’s going to be sustained over the course of two months where the grace and the love of God there the Eucharist is going to be poured out over His people.”

Tags:
EucharistEucharistic RevivalPilgrimages
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