National Eucharistic Pilgrimage comes to Houston May 30 connecting Catholics across U.S.

May 14, 2024

HOUSTON (OSV News) — Late in May, Catholics in the Archdiocese will have a special opportunity to embrace and welcome the 2024 National Eucharistic Pilgrimage the weekend after Memorial Day in 2024.

Thousands of Catholics from across the U.S. are expected to participate in the pilgrimage to the National Eucharistic Congress, two major parts of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative launched in 2022 by the U.S. bishops to inspire a deeper love and reverence for Jesus in the Eucharist.

The pilgrimage is modeled on the Gospel account of Jesus’ journey with two disciples to Emmaus after His resurrection.

Pilgrims on the journey

Walking on each of the four routes are groups of 24 “perpetual pilgrims,” Catholic young adults committed to prayer and walking the entire pilgrimage. The “perpetual pilgrims” will begin their treks May 17 to 19 — the weekend of Pentecost — from San Francisco; New Haven, Connecticut; Brownsville, Texas; and the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota.

Among the 24 pilgrims are seven young people with Texas ties. Of those seven, three have Houston connections, including Camille Anibogu, a recent University of Houston graduate; MacKenzie Warrens, a Rice University graduate student; and Chima Adiole, a student at Rice University.

Anigbogu, a music director with a decade of experience playing pipe organ and piano, said she is looking forward to bringing “Jesus to the corners of the South and explore places by foot she wouldn’t otherwise see.”

Originally from Missouri, Warrens is completing her Ph.D. in experimental atomic physics and is also set to become a consecrated virgin in 2025. During the pilgrimage, Warrens hopes to inspire others to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and experience His mercy in the Sacred Heart.

Both Anigbogu and Warrens will start their pilgrimage in the Lone Star State as part of the Juan Diego Route, while Adiole will join the route leaving from San Francisco.

Adiole chose to apply to be a perpetual pilgrim after encountering Jesus during her own personal mini-pilgrimages around the city of Houston — visiting different parishes within the city and crossing paths with people from all walks of life. She’s also a member of the adult choir of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

On the Serra route with Adiole are Chas Firestone East of Virginia; Patrick Fayad of Nebraska; Jack Krebs of Wisconsin; Madison Michel of Minnesota; and Jaella Mac Au of Georgia. With Anigbogu and Warrens on the Juan Diego route are fellow Texans Joshua Velasquez of Ediburg, and Charlie McCullough of College Station; Shayla Elm of North Dakota; and Issy Martin-Dye of Ohio.

On the Marian Route are Kai Weiss, originally from Germany, now in Washington, D.C.; Sarah Cahill of Virginia; Matthew Heidenreich of Ohio; Danielle Schmitz of California; Jennifer Torres of Colorado; and Megan Zaleski of Illinois. On the Seton route will be Dominic Carstens of Wyoming; Zoe Dongas of New York; Marina Frattaroli of Texas; Natalie Garza of Texas; Amayrani Higueldo of Pennsylvania; and Christopher Onyiuke of Florida.

The pilgrimage routes are named for key saints for North America: the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route from the east, the St. Juan Diego Route from the south, the St. Junipero Serra Route from the west, and the Marian Route from the north.

Along the way, 30 Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and other clergy will rotate time on the routes as chaplains. Their routes — a combined 6,500 miles — will converge eight weeks later in Indianapolis for the July 17 opening of the five-day congress in Lucas Oil Stadium. Along the way, the pilgrims will go through small towns, large cities and rural countryside, mostly on foot, with the Eucharist carried in a monstrance designed particularly for this unprecedented event.

In October, the National Eucharistic Congress issued a call for perpetual pilgrims and received more than 100 applications. The perpetual pilgrims were chosen after multiple rounds of interviews about experiences with service, ministry and commitment to the faith, organizers said.

In February, the pilgrims met for a retreat in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they received spiritual formation from Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who serves as chairman of the National Eucharistic Revival, as well as National Eucharistic Congress staff and priests with pilgrimage and media experience.

Most of the pilgrims are graduate or undergraduate students and some work for mission-oriented ministries and nonprofits. “A common thread for all was a profound encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist that they were inspired to share with others,” according to the media statement.

Each day of the pilgrimage will include Mass, a small Eucharistic procession and 10 to 15 miles of travel. Along the way, parishes are planning to host Eucharistic devotions such as adoration, praise and worship, and lectures. Parishes, religious orders, schools, shrines and retreat centers will offer the pilgrims hospitality and fellowship and meals.
A support vehicle will follow the pilgrims and transport them through legs of the journey where safety, terrain or weather are an issue, officials said.

Southern route

The southern route, dubbed the “Juan Diego Route,” begins in Brownsville, at the U.S.-Mexico border. It will follow Texas’ eastern border through Corpus Christi, Victoria and Houston. It will then follow the Gulf Coast and continue to Beaumont, jumping the Louisiana border to Lake Charles, through Baton Rouge, and reach New Orleans on June 7. From there, the route will visit Mobile, Alabama; Atlanta; Nashville, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky, before concluding in Indianapolis in mid-July.

The northern “Marian Route” begins in northern Minnesota at Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The route follows the river to St. Paul and Minneapolis, its first weekend stop. The route also visits La Crosse and Green Bay, Wisconsin and continues to Milwaukee, Chicago and Notre Dame, Indiana, before arriving in Indianapolis.
The “Seton Route” — named for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first U.S.-born saint — begins in New Haven, Connecticut, and continues through New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh and Steubenville, Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The “Junipero Serra Route” begins in San Francisco — with hope of walking over the Golden Gate Bridge — and continues through Reno, Nevada; Salt Lake City; Denver; North Platte and Omaha, Nebraska; Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri; and St. Louis.

Each route passes secular landmarks, including Folsom State Prison in California, Ellis Island in New York, the campuses of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and Benedictine College in Kansas. The routes also include important Catholic sites in the U.S., such as the 18th-century ministry of St. Junipero Serra in what is now California, the Philadelphia tombs of St. John Neumann and St. Katharine Drexel, and in Wisconsin, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion, the only approved Marian apparition in the U.S.

Pope Francis grants plenary indulgences for National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, Congress participants

Participants in the National Eucharistic Congress and related National Eucharistic Pilgrimage now have opportunities to receive plenary indulgences because of approval from the Vatican, officials said.

“These events will be great moments of conversion, which this indulgence points to as we seek to be free from the effects of our sins. We are grateful for the Holy Father’s blessing on these events,” Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, chair of the board of directors of the National Eucharistic Congress, said.

The plenary indulgence for National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is granted to anyone who participates in the pilgrimage between May 17 and July 16, as well as to elders, people with infirmities and “all those who cannot leave their homes for a serious reason and who participate in spirit with the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, uniting their prayers, pains or inconveniences with Christ and the pilgrimage,” a statement said.

To receive the indulgence, an individual must fulfill the usual conditions: sacramental confession, Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father.