National Eucharistic Pilgrimage's eastern route kicks off - Catholic Courier
Father Roger Landry leads adoration as the Eucharistic travels by boat from New Haven to Bridgeport, Conn., May 19, 2024, as part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. Father Roger Landry leads adoration as the Eucharistic travels by boat from New Haven to Bridgeport, Conn., May 19, 2024, as part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. (OSV News photo by Paul Haring)

National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s eastern route kicks off

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (OSV News) — Under a cold drizzle, scores of Catholics in New Haven sang and prayed while following the Eucharistic Jesus in procession. This May 18 display of faith marked the first Eucharistic procession of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s eastern route.

“It shows our commitment as Christians to our love for Jesus Christ,” Jonathan Santillo, who participated in the solemn procession with the Knights of Columbus, told OSV News.

Similar kickoff celebrations were planned to take place at the pilgrimage’s other three launch points in Brownsville, Texas; San Francisco; and Northern Minnesota. Pilgrims from points north, south, east and west are traveling with the Eucharist for the next eight weeks on their way to the National Eucharistic Congress, scheduled for July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis. The eastern route is named after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint to be canonized by the Catholic Church.

Pentecost Vigil Mass celebrated in Hartford, Connecticut

Before the procession, Archbishop Christopher J. Coyne of Hartford, Connecticut, celebrated an extended Pentecost Vigil Mass at St. Mary Church (part of Blessed Michael McGivney’s parish and where the Knights of Columbus founder’s remains are reposed.) Organizers said this extended vigil expressed the church’s plea for the gift of the Holy Spirit — in particular, “for the gift of the Holy Spirit to be given to our nation during the Eucharistic Revival and for the success of the Seton Route pilgrimage.”

During his homily, Archbishop Coyne talked about the gift of the Holy Spirit coming to the apostles in the Upper Room in Jerusalem and how the five readings of the extended Mass were a pilgrimage in the proclamation of the Word, showing the manifestation of the Holy Spirit throughout salvation history.

So, the archbishop continued, it is fitting that the nationwide Eucharistic pilgrimage starts on Pentecost weekend.

“Our life as Christians is a pilgrimage along the path of salvation. But it is not a solitary one. It is one in which we walk together as the body of Christ,” the archbishop said. “In seeking after what God desires of us, we become pilgrims of no path but the one that he would have us follow.”

More than a journey from one place to another, he added, a pilgrimage is about coming home. “It allows one to turn to God, to tend to what is most important to life.”

Archbishop prays for the perpetual pilgrims

The archbishop told the Seton Route’s six perpetual pilgrims that their “pilgrimage to the Eucharist is one with the Holy Spirit as well.”

“It is the Holy Spirit that will raise you on each of your ways so that your feet will not stumble, and your body will stay on the path,” he told the pilgrims. “The first breath of the Holy Spirit given to you in baptism” and strengthened in confirmation will help “in your exertions along the way to persevere to joyous completion.”

The archbishop then prayed for a safe and fruitful pilgrimage as the perpetual pilgrims accompany the Blessed Sacrament over the next eight weeks.

After Communion, the faithful filling the pews of St. Mary — families, religious, people of all ages — lit up candles and invoked the Holy Spirit. Then, Father Roger Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, and Catholic chaplain at Columbia University, conducted the censing of the Blessed Sacrament. Father Landry, the chaplain for the entire Seton Route, carried the Eucharist in a monstrance designed for the entire two-month pilgrimage.

Eucharistic procession, Holy Hour and overnight adoration followed Mass

This was followed by the Eucharistic procession around the neighborhood of St. Mary’s. Area young adults participated in a Holy Hour, followed by overnight adoration.

Andrea Puzio, a member of the Knights of Columbus from Council 3733 in North Haven, Connecticut, was one of the men carrying the processional canopy covering the Blessed traveled. He told OSV News that processing with Jesus in the Eucharist through the streets of New Haven “really brings your soul into the heart of Jesus to express to others that our faith is not only internally in a church, but everywhere we go.”

This was echoed by Angelica Bakhos, director of formation for Crossroads 4 Christ, a Catholic apostolate for young adults with seven chapters in Connecticut that meet weekly and organize around 350 Holy Hours a year.

“It was this amazing opportunity not only to walk with our Lord, but to walk with other pilgrims who were all journeying toward him,” she said.

Crossroads 4 Christ — along with Frassati New Haven, a fellowship of young adult Catholics — organized the Young Adult Holy Hour, which included a presentation by Father Landry.

Overnight adoration concluded at 7 a.m. May 19, with a 1.5-mile Eucharistic procession from St. Mary to St. Joseph for Pentecost Mass. Following Mass, the Seton Route’s perpetual pilgrims headed to Long Wharf, New Haven’s waterfront district, to board a boat heading toward the next leg of their journey in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Seton Route will travel through six states and Washington, D.C.

The Seton Route continues through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana.

On the day of the route’s launch, perpetual pilgrim Natalie Garza, a high school theology teacher in Kansas City, said her heart was burning. At a May 18 presentation at the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center, she shared her excitement and the reasons she is part of this National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.

“The first is to intercede for the American church, to really pray for her and get to walk with Jesus,” said the Texas native. Looking forward to living “a real expression and experience of discipleship,” like the disciples who got to know Jesus, Garza said she and her team of young adults were ready to walk alongside him for eight weeks.

Garza added that she wants to “witness with my body the truth that I have professed with my words many times, that Jesus Christ is really present in the Eucharist.”

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Maria-Pia Negro Chin is the Spanish editor for OSV News.

Tags: Eucharistic Revival
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