Graduate Assistant For Liturgy
Pilgrimages have been apart of human history for centuries. Even before Christianity, devoted believers would travel to destinations that they held to be sacred in order to worship, praise, petition, or plead the divine. While these journeys were often physically and mentally challenging, they were spiritually enriching and transformative.
Christian pilgrimage began almost immediately after Jesus’ death, when followers began to visit Jesus’ tomb and walk in his footsteps. Throughout Christian history, pilgrims have made commitments and sacrifices to travel to holy sites of saints, martyrs, and miracles.
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Pilgrimage offers many opportunities to encounter God and there are numerous testimonies of the powerful experiences of pilgrims whose lives have been changed through the undertaking of pilgrimage. Perhaps it is in the sacrifice of comfort just in making the choice to go somewhere unknown.
Pilgrimage demands that we step out of ourselves and see the world in new ways. Perhaps it is through the relationships built along the way.
Pilgrimage reminds believers that we are all interdependent and that we cannot make it on our own. Perhaps we encounter God when things go awry.
Pilgrimage teaches humility and to place our trust in God. Perhaps being at the holy site will transform us.
My first experience of pilgrimage was during fall break of my sophomore year. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up to go to St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal.
On the bus ride with forty other students, we passed the time talking, praying a novena to St. Joseph, and hearing witness talks from our leaders about their devotions to St. Joseph. They told us the incredible story of St. Andre Bessette who built the Oratory dedicated to St. Joseph.
When we arrived, I was overwhelmed by its beauty and holiness. We spent an entire day exploring and praying in this huge space.
Only when physically there did I began to understand the devotion to St. Joseph. The pilgrimage came at a point in my life when I needed a spiritual father and I adopted St. Joseph as mine. Even today I am still discovering the ways that this experience has transformed me.
This May, Campus Ministry is offering an opportunity for juniors and seniors to experience the beauty of pilgrimage, by traveling to the islands of Molokai and Oahu.
Hearing the stories about St. Damien and St. Marianne who worked with lepers on Molokai, pilgrims will be able to reflect on their own commitment to follow God’s will and to serve others. Through prayer, community, reflection, and service, this pilgrimage to Hawaii may transform pilgrims for the rest of their lives.
Learn more about this opportunity at udayton.edu/ministry. Applications are due Friday, Feb. 9.