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Article: A Privilege and a Blessing: Amayrani Higueldo Embraces Her Journey as Part of U.S. National Eucharistic Pilgrimage

Jan Giel

Holy Family University (Please click here for the original article)

Understandably, Mexican-born Amayrani Higueldo has a profound devotion to Our Lady Of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. And so,  when her first interview to determine her selection as a participant In the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage occurred on December 12, 2023, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Higueldo took it as a sign that the 60-day, 1,000-mile journey was her destiny. Two more interviews followed before Higueldo was notified of her life-changing selection.

“A friend of mine sent me the Pilgrimage application,” said Higueldo, now 26, who moved from Acapulco, Mexico to Norristown, Pa., at the age of seven. “At first, I thought, ‘two months with Jesus, that’s crazy.’ I knew I would love to do it, but I had real life to consider.  I was working and paying out of pocket to go to school full-time (at Montgomery County Community College to pursue an associate’s degree in nursing).  I told myself, ‘No, you have too much going on’.”

Instead, Higueldo decided to pray on it and to consult with her spiritual director at her home parish of Saint Patrick’s, who encouraged her to apply.

“The Holy Spirt was really generous to me,” she said, “and my spiritual advisor told me there is no harm in applying, that it might be what the Lord is asking of you and calling you to do.

Our Lady of Guadalupe has been a great intercessor of mine, so it was amazing that my first interview was on December 12. I took that as a sign that this was meant for me.”

As one of six perpetual pilgrims assigned to the eastern St. Elizabeth Ann Seton route of the United States’ first-ever National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, Higueldo is among pilgrims led by Father Roger Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts who serves as the Catholic chaplain at Columbia University in New York, accompanying Jesus in the Eucharist from all corners of the country.  

All four branches of the historic Pilgrimage  (west- St. Junipero Serra route; north -Marian route; and south – St. Juan Diego route) will converge in Indianapolis for the 10th National Eucharistic  Congress, the first in 83 years, on July 16, 2024. Pilgrims accompanying Jesus in the Eucharist will be stopping at many holy sites, shrines, and churches along the various routes. More than 100,000 U.S. Catholics are expected to join in the massive witness to their love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

From their starting point in New Haven, CT, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton route began on May 18 near the Atlantic Coast and will journey through the nation’s oldest diocese, and cross the Appalachian Mountains. Along the route, pilgrims will make stops in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Diocese of Bridgeport, Archdiocese of New York, Diocese of Brooklyn, Diocese of Metuchen, Diocese of Trenton, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Diocese of Harrisburg. Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Diocese of Greensburg, Diocese of Pittsburgh, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Diocese of Steubenville, Diocese of Columbus, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The experience has left Higueldo forever grateful and eternally changed.

“We are encountering so many beautiful people along the way,” she said.  “It is amazing to see how the Lord has manifested his glory in so many people. I am overwhelmed with joy. I am really praying that people are open to receiving the graces that he wants to pour out.  I have met so many people and heard so many stories that have edified my faith. There were hundreds and hundreds of people in New York when we went through. One woman in the Bronx laid herself prostrate at the sight of our Lord in the Eucharist.  It was amazing to witness  One woman who was covered in tattoos and piercings broke down in tears as we passed. I have no doubt that she experienced the presence, grace, and love of our Lord in that moment.  It was beautiful.  There was one man in New York who had completed overnight adoration (9:30 p.m. to 8 a.m.) and then decided that he would walk with us the entire way.  It was a long walk, up many hills, and we were walking really fast, and he struggled.  But he made it all the way, because he wanted to accompany Jesus.  I want to love the Lord like that.  He didn’t even know how he was going to get back, but he went anyway.  How providential that he had a woman, a stranger, offer to take him back to his home.  It was amazing.”

As the pilgrims pass by, many people reverently and respectfully, bow,  kneel, genuflect, make the sign of the cross, audibly pray or join in song. Some join in the procession.

“I really feel like this pilgrimage comes at the time when we need to be redeemed, renewed, and restored, individually and as church,” said Higueldo, who carries the prayers of her own discernment and the petitions of countless people with her on her journey. "This is so much bigger than what I had anticipated or could have ever imagined. The Lord is calling us to more, to go deeper in relationship with him. I encountered Jesus in such a beautiful and profound way when I was 17 years old. I felt like he invited me in and saw the good in me, and now here I am. We truly believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist – body, soul and divinity. I just want others to see that it is possible to experience love in a different capacity, to learn how good the Lord is, and to be transformed by that encounter.”


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