top of page

Article: Hundreds in Westminster brave stormy weather for National Eucharist Pilgrimage

This article appeared in the Baltimore Sun.


Allana Haynes

Baltimore Sun

June 6, 2024 at 3:23 p.m.


A seminarian uses incense to bless the Blessed Sacrament being carried by Fr. Mark Bialek during a procession around the campus of St. John Catholic Church, part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage on Wednesday. (Brian Krista/staff photo)


Hundreds of parishioners braved stormy weather Wednesday evening to take part in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage at St. John Catholic Church in Westminster.


The pilgrimage began May 17 and is planned to span 60 days over four routes across the United States, converging July 17-21 at the National Eucharistic Congress at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.


The Westminster portion of the pilgrimage is on the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route, named for the first American-born Catholic saint, whose legacy is celebrated at a historic and religious site and education center in Emmitsburg. The eastern route began in New Haven, Connecticut, and has passed through New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. After Wednesday’s Westminster stop, it continued to Emmitsburg then on to Baltimore this weekend before traveling northwest into Pittsburgh, through Ohio, and ending in Indianapolis July 16. 


The Rev. Mark Bialek, pastor at St. John Catholic Church, said the procession is a demonstration of the church’s belief that Jesus is with them.


The Rev. Mark Bialek, right, passes the Blessed Sacrament to associate pastor the Rev. Leandro Fazolini as they take part in a procession around the campus of St. John Catholic Church, part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage on Wednesday. (Brian Krista/staff photo)


“As Catholics we believe that Jesus is present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist, which is the host and that presence remains,” Bialek said. “We actually take the host and we process the host through the streets of Westminster and then offer a number of blessings along the way.”


Marina Frattaroli, 26, of New York City, is one of the six “perpetual pilgrims,” or full-time travelers who stopped in Westminster on the pilgrimage. She joined as a way to share her faith, and said she hopes the pilgrimage is a commemoration of the church’s past and a celebration of its present and future.


“One of the ways that this pilgrimage is a celebration of the church’s past is that we are going back to the very root of what Jesus himself did when he was incarnate as a human back in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago,” she said. “We believe that we are walking with Jesus himself in the blessed sacrament and it’s us who are devoting time and making sacrifices to walk alongside him and we’re inviting everyone else to join us along the way.”


Sarah Kioko, 46, of Finksburg, a parishioner at St. John Catholic Church for 14 years, and was among about 560 people to attend Wednesday, according to church officials.

Her three oldest sons, Moses, 12, Isaac, 10, and Abel, 8, joined her. She said the pilgrimage is a significant moment for Catholic churches across the country.


The procession with the Blessed Sacrament exits the chapel as it tours around the campus of St. John Catholic Church, part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage on Wednesday. (Brian Krista/staff photo)


“We are eager to come together to share this faith with others in our communities,” Kioko said.


Parishioners gathered at the church for a procession around the church’s campus Wednesday. Led by clergy, choir members, prayer leaders and seminarians, they sang hymns and recited prayers as they walked, later heading indoors for a benediction in the sanctuary.

Commentaires


bottom of page