National Eucharistic Pilgrimage to pass through Houston, connect Catholics across U.S. to 2024 Congress

July 11, 2023

HOUSTON (OSV News) — Catholics in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston 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 United States anticipate to participate in next year’s pilgrimage to the Congress, part of the U.S. bishops’ three-year National Eucharistic Revival that began in 2021. The pilgrimage has four routes, with one beginning in the north, south, east and west of the country.

Four routes, one destination

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. After visiting Brownsville May 17 to 19, the “Juan Diego Route” will trek to Corpus Christi on May 24 to 26 and then to Houston on May 31 to June 2.
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.

The routes include important Catholic sites in the United States, such 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 United States.

Walking with the Lord

Mike Wavra thinks of the 2024 National Eucharistic Pilgrimage as “an opportunity to walk with the Lord.”

He and his wife, Cindi, both 65-year-old retirees, plan to join the pilgrimage at its northern launch point in Minnesota in May 2024, and then walk for about a week before rejoining the pilgrims seven weeks later in Indianapolis for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress.

The Wavras are among the pilgrims traveling in the “Eucharistic caravans” on all four routes who will begin their journeys with Pentecost weekend celebrations May 17 to 18, 2024, leaving May 19. They will all converge on Indianapolis July 16, 2024, the day before the five-day Congress opens.

The pilgrimage is an opportunity for prayer and evangelization, as well as a way to engage Catholics unable to attend the Congress, said Tim Glemkowski, the National Eucharistic Congress’ executive director.

“What the pilgrimage does is it builds us in prayerful anticipation for what God is going to do at the Congress,” he said. “It’s two months of us pilgrimaging, fasting, praying, interceding, asking the Lord to renew His Church, His Bride, in those five days. … They’re not two different things. It’s one pilgrimage: five days of which happen in a stadium in Indianapolis, and two months of which happen across our country on the way there.”

Weekend stops in major cities will include special Liturgies, Eucharistic adoration, processions and service opportunities, Glemkowski said.

“People are going to reach an ‘Emmaus point’ at these spots along the way, and we want to support the local Church,” Peterson said May 9. “That’s where it’s such a great gift to coordinate with like 65 dioceses to say, ‘How can we really highlight the great sacred sites of your diocese?’”

Each pilgrimage route is expected to have 12 “perpetual pilgrims,” young adults, including two seminarians, committed to traveling the entire route from their launch points to Indianapolis.

The faithful are invited to join the pilgrimage for hours, days or weeks. Each day of the pilgrimage will begin with Mass and a Eucharistic procession with the local community before pilgrims continue the trek to their next stopping point.

A local committee of Archdiocesan clergy and catechetical leaders in Houston currently in the planning stages for when the pilgrimage arrives in Houston and is expected to share updates soon.