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National Eucharistic Pilgrimage Calls All Young Catholics to Embark on a Sacred Journey
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The National Eucharistic Congress has announced the opening of its application process for young individuals seeking to become "perpetual pilgrims" during the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage scheduled for the summer of 2024. This ambitious two-month spiritual journey will encompass four cross-country Eucharistic processions, covering a combined distance of 6,500 miles, all culminating in Indianapolis on July 16, 2024, during the National Eucharistic Congress.
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Photo credit: Sylvain Brison
The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage invites members of the general public to participate in various sections of the journey. However, a select group of four dozen full-time "perpetual" pilgrims will make a profound commitment to complete the entire pilgrimage. These dedicated individuals will be accompanied by priest chaplains for weeklong segments of the pilgrimage and will walk approximately 10-15 miles each day, with major solemn processions on Sundays and Mass, as well as smaller processions at parishes during the week.
To be eligible for the role of a perpetual pilgrim, candidates must be aged between 19 and 29, possess good physical condition, and be capable of walking long distances. Additionally, they are required to commit to upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church throughout the entire pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage is set to commence during the feast of Pentecost, from May 17 to 19, 2024. Four origin points have been designated: San Francisco in the west, Bemidji, Minnesota in the north, New Haven, Connecticut in the east, and Brownsville, Texas in the south. Each route is detailed on the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage's official website, including the cities and dates.
This extraordinary pilgrimage is being organized by the National Eucharistic Revival campaign in collaboration with Modern Catholic Pilgrim, a Catholic nonprofit dedicated to deepening faith across the country through such transformative journeys.
Will Peterson, the founder and president of Modern Catholic Pilgrim, has shared that they have already received expressions of interest from around 70 individuals looking to become perpetual pilgrims. They hope to garner a total of "a couple hundred, if not 1,000" applications. Peterson expects many applicants to be college students and plans to collaborate closely with campus ministers at Catholic universities to ensure interested students receive invitations to apply. The timing of the pilgrimage's kickoff during the Pentecost weekend aligns with the summer break for many colleges.
While the majority of participants may indeed be students, Peterson notes that Catholic school teachers and individuals in transition in their careers have also expressed interest. This reflects a generation that is open to taking time to explore their spiritual calling.
Financial support for the National Eucharistic Congress is an important aspect, but it will not be burdensome for the perpetual pilgrims. While there is no associated cost for becoming a perpetual pilgrim, the Congress has committed to providing housing, meals, and a weekly stipend for basic expenses. However, perpetual pilgrims will be encouraged to participate in fundraising efforts before the pilgrimage.
Each diocese along the pilgrimage route has appointed a diocesan representative who works in conjunction with the local ordinary. This collaborative effort aims to identify suitable parishes, monasteries, Catholic colleges, and other locations for pilgrims to stop, as well as identifying host families and other hospitable hosts for small groups of perpetual pilgrims.
The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is being organized in coordination with a three-year-long Eucharistic revival campaign by the U.S. Catholic bishops. This campaign seeks to inspire, educate, and unite the faithful in forming a more intimate relationship with Jesus through the Eucharist.
Interested individuals are encouraged to submit their applications to become perpetual pilgrims by November 28. The application process will be followed by interviews and additional screenings, with final selections taking place in January 2024. This remarkable journey promises to be a transformative experience for young Catholics, bringing them closer to their faith and the Eucharistic celebration.
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