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Louisville racial justice pilgrimage set for September

Modern Catholic Pilgrim is organizing the event in partnership with the archdiocese, and Archbishop Shelton Fabre is expected to attend.

(Modern Catholic Pilgrim)

Modern Catholic Pilgrim’s fourth annual “Walking Together: Louisville” pilgrimage for racial justice has set its dates, scheduled for September 15-16 in the inner city, where pilgrims will be invited to pray for an end to racism.

The event, organized in partnership with the archdiocese’s Office of Multicultural Ministry, will begin with a youth and young adult kickoff event at the Flaglet Retreat Center on Friday night with Archbishop Shelton Fabre, who will be participating in the event for the first time.

The four-mile walk on Saturday morning will feature stops at three historic Black Catholic parishes, all of which fall along an east-west terminal from the Ohio River to downtown Louisville. The pilgrimage will conclude there at the Cathedral of the Assumption, where the group will sing and pray together before sharing a meal.

“Each church carries importance in the history of the Black Catholic Church in Louisville and is an opportunity for prayer and reflection, as well as for more pilgrims to join the group.,” the MCP organization said in an announcement.

“This annual pilgrimage, under the patronage of Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, is an opportunity for Catholics of all backgrounds to encounter Christ in each other while having Spirit-led conversations about the role of race in the Church.”

MCP’s founder and president, Will Peterson, expressed his excitement about having Louisville’s African-American Catholic prelate as their latest collaborator.

“Each year that we come to Louisville for the Walking Together pilgrimage, I am led into a deeper understanding of our faith's call to action for justice for all people,” Peterson said. 

“In years past, Bishop Emeritus Edward Braxton, Dr. Kathleen Dorsey Bellow, Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., and Fr. Manuel Williams, C.R. have all given us so much to walk with. I am thrilled that Archbishop Shelton Fabre will send us on our way this year.”

MCP was founded in 2017 as a nonprofit bringing the practice of Catholic pilgrimage to a new generation, with a focus on holy sites in the United States. The organization later began hosting ad hoc racial justice pilgrimages, and announced an initiative in 2021 bringing them under a single banner. They were also newly placed under the patronage of Bowman, taking her famous words before the U.S. bishops in 1989 as an inspiration and namesake.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to deepen my relationship with Sr. Thea and my fellow pilgrims as we strive to live out Jesus’ call to love one another as he loved us,” said Tim Hankins, a Catholic school teacher from Cincinnati who, with a group of students, is planning to attend the event in Kentucky.

“Walking Together: Louisville” is the first pilgrimage in MCP’s racial justice series this year and follows a similar event held in Memphis in the fall. Another is scheduled for university students in the Twin Cities this October.

The Louisville pilgrimage is open to the public and free registration can be completed online. Paid accommodations will be available for youth and chaperones planning to stay overnight on Friday at the retreat center, and interested parties can email Jamie Mulligan of the Archdiocese of Louisville for reservations. 

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.

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