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Pilgrim says Church is alive and hungry as national pilgrimage passes through Louisville Archdiocese

By meerna Jul11,2024
Pilgrim says Church is alive and hungry as national pilgrimage passes through Louisville Archdiocese


Singing hymns and praying the rosary, hundreds of Catholics from the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis marched in a procession with the Blessed Sacrament from Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville across the Ohio River via the Big Four Bridge on July 9.

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre lifted the monstrance aloft as he crossed the pedestrian bridge and ceremoniously handed it over to Archbishop of Indianapolis Charles Thompson where the bridge begins its descent toward Jeffersonville.

The threat of severe weather from Hurricane Beryl loomed in the distance, and high humidity shrouded the bridge. But the sky was clear for the procession and prayer service that took place at the base of the bridge in Jeffersonville. As the service drew to a close, a rainbow appeared in the sky over Louisville.

The evening gathering marked the end of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage through the Archdiocese of Louisville. Eight pilgrims traveling the Juan Diego route of the nationwide pilgrimage entered the archdiocese July 4. Processional with the Blessed Sacrament at various points, they covered about 100 miles of the archdiocese, visiting parishes, religious communities and other sites.

Now the pilgrims head to Indianapolis to reach their destination: the National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held July 17-21.

Shayla Elm, one of eight pilgrims on the southern pilgrimage route from Texas to Indiana, said their experiences in Kentucky and along the route convinced her that “the Church is alive and hungry.”

Many Catholics want to live a life of “fire” rather than “lukewarm” and love the opportunity to publicly profess their faith by walking with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, she said.

“The Eucharistic procession makes you make an act of faith that is public,” she noted, adding that people take advantage of the opportunity and “they love it!”

During the pilgrimage, Elm saw Kentucky for the first time. Elm, who is originally from North Dakota, said in a recent interview that she was struck by the Catholic roots she found during her few days in the state.

“Tradition and Catholic ownership are deeply rooted,” she noted. The Archdiocese of Louisville was founded in 1808 as one of four dioceses carved out of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the original see in the United States.

Although the eight pilgrims stayed in the Archdiocese of Louisville for only six days, they were able to experience centuries of history in the “Kentucky Holy Land,” where the Catholic faith first took root in the late 18th century.

Beginning their pilgrimage through the Archdiocese of Louisville, the pilgrims celebrated Mass at St. Catherine’s Church in New Haven and spent the night at nearby Gethsemani Abbey, where they joined the monks for midday prayer, a private tour of the abbey, celebrated Mass, and participated in a Eucharistic procession.

The pilgrims spent the following days with the Dominican Sisters of Peace and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, as well as with several parishes in the area, including the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Loretto and St. Rose Monastery in Springfield.

On July 7, pilgrims were among a large crowd attending Mass for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time at the Proto-Cathedral of the Basilica of St. Joseph in Bardstown, then spent time at nearby St. Monica Church, and then continued on to St. Gregory Church in Cox’s Creek.

The next day, they celebrated Mass at St. Gabriel’s Church, then walked in a Blessed Sacrament procession along a section of Bardstown Road, stopping at the churches of St. Raphael, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. James, before concluding the evening with sacred music and adoration at the shrine of St. Martin of Tours.

On July 9, the pilgrims visited Catholic Charities of Louisville and joined Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre for Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville. Hundreds of people then walked with the Blessed Sacrament from the cathedral to St. Augustine Church, a traditional African-American church founded at the end of the Civil War.

In all, the pilgrims visited 17 sites in the archdiocese. Along the way, they were joined by hundreds of Catholics from across the region for adoration, potluck dinners, music and Eucharistic processions. They were not deterred by the high temperatures and humidity, which increased each day.

At the time of the July 8 interview, Elm still had many Catholic churches to see, but she said her favorite stop in the archdiocese was Holy Cross Church in Loretto, which she visited July 5. At Holy Cross, she was moved by the story of Father Stephen Badin, the first priest in the United States to serve the region from that parish.

Elm and seven other perpetual pilgrims on the southern route began Pentecost Sunday, May 19, in Texas. Elm explained that the group became like a family as they experienced the joys and challenges of the journey together.

“I was touched by the faith of all my teammates,” she said.

The pilgrims were accompanied by priests from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, who served as their chaplains along the way. Among them was Franciscan Father Dismas Marie Kline, a native of Louisville.

“They are a delight,” Elm said. She explained that the pilgrims on her route have developed a close bond with the order. “They have been such good brothers and fathers.”

Elm said she is looking forward to the National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held July 17-21 in Indianapolis, where she will be able to meet with pilgrims from the three remaining routes — starting in the west, east and north — and share stories from their time on the route.

By meerna

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