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Article: Area Catholics participate in Eucharist pilgrimage

We thank William Kincaid and The Daily Standard for this article on the stops of the Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. This article was first published on July 5, 2024.



Caption: After Wednesday morning Mass at St. Francis de Sales Church, Lebanon, more than 175 pilgrims joined the solemn Eucharistic Procession into downtown Lebanon, ending with benediction at Bicentennial Park. Photo courtesy to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.


Inspired by four groups of pilgrims making their way on a two-month journey across the U.S. to the 10th National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis later this month, a local family of Catholic parishes will host its own four-day pilgrimage beginning in Chickasaw on Monday.


The Eucharistic Pilgrimage, a movement of feet and souls, will proceed from community to community within the Christ Our Light Family of Parishes, with the consecrated Eucharist host - Jesus in the form of transubstantiated bread - being the focal point, as it travels in a sacred vessel known as the monstrance alongside participants. Christ Our Light Family of Parishes Pastor Ken Schnipke said in a statement that the Eucharist "is the source and summit of our lives. It unities us closer to the Lord."


"Obviously we have a need right now for Jesus, and so it's just a matter of coming out of our building, out of our church buildings and bringing Jesus on the streets to meet people where they are," said Chris Wibbenmeyer, communications administrator for Christ Our Light Family of Parishes.



Caption: After Wednesday morning Mass at St. Francis de Sales Church, Lebanon, more than 175 pilgrims joined the solemn Eucharistic Procession into downtown Lebanon, ending with benediction at Bicentennial Park. Photo courtesy to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.


The family of parishes consists of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Cassella, St. Rose in St. Rose, St. Sebastian in St. Sebastian, Precious Blood in Chickasaw, St. John the Baptist in Maria Stein, St. Joseph in Egypt, St. Augustine in Minster and Holy Redeemer in New Bremen.


"Any Catholic can come and help out, any Catholic can come to join us," Wibbenmeyer said. "Honestly, anybody can join. It doesn't matter if they're Catholic or not. I know that, even some stories through the national pilgrimage, just people having an inkling to just come along and an opportunity for prayer."


The pilgrimage gets underway at 5:30 p.m. Monday with an opening Mass at Precious Blood Catholic Church, followed by a walk around Chickasaw and then about 5 miles to St. Sebastian Catholic Church.


"There will be a special blessing for first responders at the Chickasaw Fire Department after Mass and then the journey to St. Sebastian," Wibbenmeyer said.


From Tuesday to Thursday, pilgrimages will continue from church to church, with morning and evening Masses and overnight exposition of the Eucharist, which is a very special opportunity for Catholics to be in the presence of Christ.


"Especially in our family of parishes, we don't have a perpetual adoration chapel where the blessed sacrament is exposed 24 hours a day," Wibbenmeyer said. "To be able to have Jesus in monstrance though the procession, on the altar at churches pretty much 24/7 through this event, it's pretty powerful and just an opportunity for people to join in any hour of the day."


Caption: After Wednesday morning Mass at St. Francis de Sales Church, Lebanon, more than 175 pilgrims joined the solemn Eucharistic Procession into downtown Lebanon, ending with benediction at Bicentennial Park. On Saturday the procession will be in Cincinnati and thousands are expected to attend. Photo courtesy to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.


This will be a walking procession made up of 11 legs of varying distances.


"The purpose of the walking is to journey with Jesus, journey like Jesus did when he was here," Wibbenmeyer said. "It's kind of a test of strength for us as well. What can we give of ourselves to the Lord?"


Devotees will also pray together, and Wibbenmeyer said he wouldn't be surprised if they break into spontaneous songs.


"A pretty powerful example to those in our communities," he said about the procession.


Participants are encouraged to don walking shoes and breathable clothing. Everyone will walk at their own risk but volunteers will manage traffic to the best of their abilities.


There will be a bus available for those who cannot walk a leg, Wibbenmeyer said.


"When we get to the end of a leg, we will have the church bus actually shuttle pilgrims back to the beginning of the previous leg, so if someone doesn't want to continue on, they can be shuttled back to their vehicle," he said.


Along the way, farms and businesses will be blessed.


"I know we have over a hundred businesses that will receive a blessing during this procession," Wibbenmeyer said.


A committee of 12, led by the Holy Spirit, spent almost half a year planning for the pilgrimage, according to Wibbenmeyer.


"Just to be led by the spirit and to have people drawn in closer to Jesus, that's our goal," he said. "Sometimes at church we expect people to come in our doors, we expect people to come to us in some different various things that we have going on, not only with Mass, but the different young, adult groups going on. This is a way for us to leave our church buildings and go out and touch people where they are at."


Nearly 90% of the 771 volunteer positions - bus drivers, procession attendants, candle servers, etc. - needed for the pilgrimage were filled as of Wednesday afternoon.


"It's just been tremendous on seeing how many people have registered," Wibbenmeyer said. "Young people, older people, it seems like everybody just wants to take part and be involved in this."


Caption: After Wednesday morning Mass at St. Francis de Sales Church, Lebanon, more than 175 pilgrims joined the solemn Eucharistic Procession into downtown Lebanon, ending with benediction at Bicentennial Park. On Saturday the procession will be in Cincinnati and thousands are expected to attend. Photo courtesy to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.


Catholic pilgrims are in the middle of a two-month journey on four routes across the United States. They're planning to converge on Indianapolis later this month for a climactic stadium gathering called the National Eucharistic Congress, the first such event in more than 80 years.


"Which is just pretty amazing," Wibbenmeyer said. "From all ends of the nation we are gathering in one central place to grow in our faith."


The path of the eastern pilgrimage route - the St. Elizabeth Anne Seton Route - is traversing the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in southern Ohio through Monday, according to an Archdiocese news release.


"This kind of pilgrimage is special because a journey with the Eucharist is a journey with Jesus and every place visited becomes a holy place," the release states.


Along the Seton Route in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, pilgrims were expected to stop at 10 parish churches, the Greene County Jail, Pregnancy Center Plus, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains and a Eucharistic Festival.


Organizers are anticipating a crowd of more than 3,000 people on Saturday in downtown Cincinnati. In addition to the Eucharistic procession, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr is slated to celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. at Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains, per the release.


Late last month, a procession of pilgrims traveled through Steubenville.


Caption: After Wednesday morning Mass at St. Francis de Sales Church, Lebanon, more than 175 pilgrims joined the solemn Eucharistic Procession into downtown Lebanon, ending with benediction at Bicentennial Park. Photo courtesy to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.


Katherine Ball of St. Clairsville, who had joined the procession with fellow members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, dressed in its medieval black cape and veil, choked back tears as she spoke of how the presence of the Eucharist helped console her after losing her parents to cancer.


Weeks earlier, she said, she happened to drive alongside the well-marked van in which the perpetual pilgrims were traveling, with the host displayed in the monstrance. She stayed close to the van for some time, her spirits lifting as she recalled a saint's writing that "Jesus never travels alone" but brings all of heaven into the Eucharist.


To learn more about the local pilgrimage and daily schedule, visit marioncatholiccommunity.org/eucharistic-revival.html.


- The Associated Press contributed to this article.



Caption: After Wednesday morning Mass at St. Francis de Sales Church, Lebanon, more than 175 pilgrims joined the solemn Eucharistic Procession into downtown Lebanon, ending with benediction at Bicentennial Park. Along the Seton Route in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati pilgrims will stop at 10 parish churches, the Greene County Jail, Pregnancy Center Plus, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains and a Eucharistic Festival. On Saturday the procession will be in Cincinnati and thousands are expected to attend. Photo courtesy to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

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