Applications are now open for perpetual pilgrims on the 2024 National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, comprised of four routes leading to Indianapolis next summer for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. The full pilgrimage schedules have not been announced, but multiple routes will include stops related to Black Catholics.
Though the pilgrimages are intended to attract participation from the general public as the Blessed Sacrament is processed through various regions of the country, perpetual pilgrims will consist of young adults aged 19-29 who will walk a given route for its entire two-month journey from May to July.
“We are seeking a diverse group of faithful Catholics who bring together an array of experience in ministry, service, and even pilgrimage background,” said Will Peterson, president and founder of Modern Catholic Pilgrim, which is helping to lead the national initiative.
“Never before has the U.S. Church asked its young people to serve as stewards of the Risen Christ in this way.”
The four routes will span the nation from north, south, east, and west, beginning in Minnesota (Marian Route), Texas (Juan Diego), Connecticut (Seton Route), and California (Serra Route). They will begin on May 17 and end on July 21—the final day of the National Eucharistic Congress at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indiana.
On the Marian Route, stops have been confirmed at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the first historically Black parish in its archdiocese, and Viterbo University’s Sr Thea Bowman Center—named for one of the nation’s African-American sainthood candidates. Other Black parishes may be added to the route in Milwaukee and Chicago.
The Serra Route, the longest of the four, will include stops at Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception—where Servant of God Julia Greeley is presently interred—and Black parishes in Omaha, Nebraska, and Kansas City, Missouri. The pilgrimage will also visit the grave of Venerable Augustus Tolton in Quincy, Illinois, on his feast day.
The grave of St. Katharine Drexel at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia will feature on the Seton Route in the northeast, while the Juan Diego Route group will attend a Mass at New Orleans’ St. Louis Cathedral, which houses a chapel dedicated to Venerable Henriette DeLille.
Each route will be accompanied by priest chaplains, who will celebrate daily Masses and lead Adoration, lectures, and processions in cities along the route. Perpetual pilgrims will travel 10-15 miles per day and be welcomed by various groups along their journey.
“Biblical hospitality will be offered via host families, parishes, religious orders, schools, shrines, retreat centers, and everything in between,” the pilgrimage organizers said in a press release.
The perpetual pilgrimage opportunity is open to baptized and practicing Catholics, and the application and preparation process has been described by organizers as “rigorous,” resulting in a dozen young Catholics chosen for each route.
“They're going to be coming from all around the country, [so we've planned] some online preparation spiritually, and then a weekend retreat, where we can bring them together,” said Eucharistic Congress organizer Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston this week at the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He also noted that the perpetual pilgrims won't necessarily be walking “all day, every day.”
“That's part of the secret... Some pilgrims walk one day, and then they maybe serve the next day or they get a day of rest. So we'll find ways to make that workable for them.”
Perpetual pilgrim applications, which are available now online, will close on Tuesday, November 28, after which candidates will be interviewed and screened before final selections are made in January. Full schedules for each route are expected to be available online the following month.
Interested parties can also contact the pilgrimage organizers at email@example.com or (888) 303-6277 for more information.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.