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What I learned from a Perpetual Pilgrim on his way to the National Eucharistic Congress

Dr. Alice Prince recounts her experience meeting Patrick Fayad during his stop in St. Louis on the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.

Patrick Fayad on the campus of his alma mater, Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, during a stop on the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage in June 2024. (Benedictine College)

As I reflect and prepare my heart and mind to share this experience, the first phrase that comes to mind is this: “Super, super beautiful.”

These are the words of Patrick Fayad, a 23-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska, who works at St. Martin’s Academy, a Catholic boarding school for boys in Fort Scott, Kansas. He is a Perpetual Pilgrim participating in the Serra Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, which began on the West Coast in May and will conclude at the 10th National Eucharistic Congress this month in Indianapolis. He stopped in St. Louis from July 5-7.

I and a few of my fellow parishioners from St. Josephine Bakhita Catholic Church in St. Louis had the privilege of sitting around a table with Patrick during a lunch prepared by our host committee. We were captivated by his every word.

Our excitement grew as we spoke with him. One question led to another, each inspired by the previous answer. We all wanted to know his "why." Why did he choose this pilgrimage? Why was it so important to him? Patrick’s response was authentic: “You know you need a lot of time with the Lord to solidify your yes.” His words reminded us of the importance of spending time with God and the significance of saying yes to him. We all told him how proud we were of his yes, and that it has inspired us and many others.

Patrick explained that it was beautiful how the Lord was using the pilgrimage’s four routes to bless the country in the form of a cross. When asked how his parents felt, he admitted that his mom cried. He said, “I was born and raised Catholic, but I needed to make my faith my own.” His honesty brought a moment of silence as we internalized his message. How can we continue to make faith our own? 

He shared that he was in approximately the seventh week of his two-month journey, during which his faith has deepened tremendously. Many of his comforts have been taken away. He has slept in over 30 different beds along the way. This "poverty of spirit" created a sense of detachment, relying only on the warmth, love, and company of Jesus. He said, “The only thing I can depend on is Him.” Patrick acknowledged that the journey is not easy and is not meant to be easy. He is depending on Jesus like never before.

From Patrick’s experience, we learn the impact of dedicating time to solidify our faith and the power of a genuine spiritual journey. His story encourages us to rely on God, embrace challenges, and seek a deeper, personal connection with our faith, reminding us of the beauty in saying yes to God's call and the unity it brings to our community. 

Patrick and the other Eucharistic pilgrims are truly an inspiration. Their dedication and strong spirit are unparalleled. Needless to say, spending time with Patrick over lunch enriched our experience in St. Louis as we prepare for the National Eucharistic Congress.

Dr. Alice Prince is a God-fearing Black mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and proud Catholic. She is the founder of Catholic and Diverse, a consultancy dedicated to assisting Catholic schools in matters of diversity, inclusion, and belonging. As a college professor, author, and faith speaker, she brings a deep commitment to fostering understanding and unity within educational environments.

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