Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Pilgrimage: 50 Miles to Holy Hill

Millions of people make religious pilgrimages each year. Whether it is making a trip to Lourdes, Fatima or Champion, Wisconsin, a religious pilgrimage is a time to step back from our day to day lives and begin a voyage, not only in a physical state but also in a spiritual sense. It is during these pilgrimages that we begin to draw deeper into our relationships with Christ, giving ourselves a chance to admire, as well as ponder, His wonderful deeds and His constant love for human kind.

A few weeks ago,  I was given the chance to embark on my first religious pilgrimage led by Archdiocesan Vocations Director Father Luke Strand. This pilgrimage was a 50 mile walk from St. Francis De Sales Seminary in St. Francis to Holy Hill in Hubertus, Wisconsin. Following Mass, we began our pilgrimage with a trip to visit Auxiliary Bishop Donald J. Hying at his office at the Archbishop Cousins Center to wish him a happy one year anniversary to the episcopacy.

After congratulating our awesome Auxiliary Bishop, we made our way to various churches on the south side of Milwaukee such as: Immaculate Conception in Bay View, the Bascilica of St. Josaphat on 6th and Lincoln Avenue, St. Anthony's on 9th and Mitchell, as well as the St. Joan of Arc Chapel on the Marquette University Campus before going to Aurora Sinai Medical Center on Kilbourn Ave, where my Mom had planned a wonderful lunch for the starving pilgrims.

After filling our bellys with some amazing food, we continued to make our way  up Wisconsin Ave, picking up two Marquette students that chose to pilgrimage with us for the day. We stopped to pray in front of Planned Parenthood, tried with no avail to get a look at the new chapel that was built inside Marquette University High School and prayed inside the Schoenstatt Shrine on 55th and Wisconsin Ave. For dinner, we traveled to Christ King Parish in Wauwatosa and finally arrived at St. Mary's Visitation Parish in Elm Grove at 8:00 to spend the night. The next day began with 6:30 AM Mass. We were graciously invited to have breakfast at the home of Brian Magliocco and his wife, Melissa.  Brian is the coordinator of WYRE Ministries which produces wonderful events for the youth of Wisconsin with opportunities to grow closer to God, such as the Wisconsin Youth Rally that is held every year.

After breakfast, we made the trip to St. John Vianney Parish in Brookfield to pray Morning Prayer and then to St. Dominic's Parish for lunch with Fr. David Reith, the Pastor, and newly ordained Fr. Brad Krawczyk, now the Associate Pastor. After breakfast it was straight walking all the way to Merton, Wisconsin. Relying solely on Divine Providence, we were amazed when a man stopped us on the side of the road with bottles of water and Hershey chocolate bars. It was even more amazing to us when he revealed to us that he was a Mormon. We stopped at Fr. Luke Strand's aunt's house for dinner and to spend the night. The first thing we all did was jump in the cold pool. Relaxing our tired bodies in the pool was awesome!

We woke up the next morning refreshed and energized, ready to conquer the final 10 miles to Holy Hill. We were a mile away from our destination when we decided to walk the rest of the way barefoot. It was just a small sacrifice, offering up our tired bare feet to Christ. I can't even imagine how He could walk the Via Dolorosa with so many lacerations on His body, His crown of thorns and His tired feet. All of these painful details with the addition of a heavy wooden cross in just incomprehensible! This small sacrifice that we gave, by walking the last mile to Holy Hill barefoot was our way of completing our pilgrimage, by uniting ourselves with Christ, and offering up our sore and tired bodies, so that He could transform them and use them for His glory. This was the purpose of our pilgrimage, to give witness to Christ by walking these 50 miles, carrying a Papal flag, carrying no food of our own with us, totally relying on God like we should be each and every day of our lives. 

Attending the 4:00 o'clock Mass at Holy Hill was such a fitting end to the pilgrimage, reminding us what our true purpose of this journey was. Pilgrimages are supposed to bring you closer to God and for us, this literally was true. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I hope to go on more pilgrimages in the future, continuing to move ever closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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