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Article: Little Flower Parish joins National Eucharistic Revival pilgrims as they walk through area

Jaimie Julia Winters

New Jersey Catholic (Original article HERE)

June 10, 2024

When Father JC Merino first arrived at the Church of the Little Flower in Berkeley Heights, he sought the Lord’s guidance on his role as pastor. In prayer, the Lord spoke to him, saying, “Take everyone I will send you into a pilgrimage — a spiritual pilgrimage.”

“The revelation became the foundation of my pastorship and, consequently, became the vision and our parish theme: ‘Journey of Faith: A Pilgrimage to the Heart of God,’” Father Merino said.

The pastor, pastoral associate Dan Grossano, and 16 parishioners took that vision to the streets when they joined the Diocese of Metuchen in welcoming the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage to Central New Jersey on May 27 and 28.

Joining 200 others, they walked 6.5 miles with the six National Eucharistic Revival perpetual pilgrims as they came through Metuchen and New Brunswick.

For the Little Flower parishioners, the pilgrimage began with praise, worship, and an evening of eucharistic adoration at the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Metuchen on May 27. The National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima from the National Blue Army Shrine welcomed the pilgrims at the Cathedral. The statue, traveling across the country, aims to prepare the way for the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage by fostering prayer and reparation, aligning with the message of Fatima and the mission of the World Apostolate of Fatima (also known as Our Lady’s Blue Army).

On May 28, they joined the Eucharistic procession for 6.5 miles to St. Peter the Apostle Church in New Brunswick, where Mass was celebrated.

“We brought Jesus out to the streets and bore witness to our faith and desire to follow Him,” Grossano said.

As the 200-plus participants walked, mainly on Route 27, through Metuchen, Edison, and New Brunswick, people came out of their homes and businesses to cheer on the group and pray as they stopped in parks and even the Walmart parking lot, Grossano said.

“It’s really bringing Jesus to where the people were,” Grossano said.

Local Catholics have been encouraged to extend hospitality to the pilgrims as they pass through their towns, echoing Biblical traditions of welcoming strangers. This act of generosity not only supports the pilgrims but also strengthens community bonds.

Grossano said many were surprised by the sheer size of the pilgrimage.

“I told them a lot of people love Jesus,” he said.

Parishioners said they were moved by the spectators who were brought to their knees in tears and prayer at the sight of the Eucharist and the procession.

“It truly felt like a revival, which our country needs, and I can’t wait to see the fruits of this in the future!” one parishioner said.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen emphasized the pilgrimage’s spiritual impact, predicting it would touch many hearts and strengthen communal devotion to the Eucharist.

“I pray that this pilgrimage experience will be an expression of faith and joy that will bring us together as a Church,” Bishop Checchio said.

Father Merino said joining the pilgrimage is important because of its novelty.

“This unprecedented outpouring of grace through the Eucharist to the local Church in the United States is very much needed in our time,” he said. “Here we are reminded as Catholics of the centrality that the Holy Eucharist plays in our lives, and that in Christ we become one in prayer and faith. We journey together.”

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage consists of four primary routes designed to rekindle devotion and faith in the Eucharist across the United States. These routes will converge in Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress from July 17-21. The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route, which is the one the Little Flower group joined, highlights significant Catholic sites along the East Coast.

Five perpetual pilgrims — Natalie Garza (Team Lead), Amayrani Higueldo, Zoe Dongas, Mariana Frattaroli, and Dominic Carstens — began walking the Seton Route two weeks ago, leaving from St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn. Before concluding, they will journey through New York, the Diocese of Metuchen, the Archdiocese of Baltimore (the nation’s oldest diocese), and the Appalachian Mountains.


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