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Article: One the largest-scale Eucharistic pilgrimages of its kind leaves from New Haven, travels through CT

By Elizabeth L. T. Moore,

Staff Writer

Connecticut Post

May 23, 2024

This article and photos originally appeared in the Connecticut Post. Photos by Tyler Sizemore of Hearst Connecticut Media.

NEW HAVEN — Starting at the four corners of the country, 23 modern-day Catholic pilgrims began a months-long journey, mainly on foot, with the plan to converge for a national convention in July.

Six of them set off on the eastern route from New Haven on Sunday, walking from St. Mary's Church on Hillhouse Avenue, to St. Joseph Church on Edwards Street, before getting on a boat at Long Wharf bound for Bridgeport.

During the cross-country trek, the pilgrims will carry a gold monstrance displaying the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a “host” like a Communion wafer, which Catholics believe is transformed into the literal body of Christ.

“What these pilgrims are doing is bringing, essentially, Christ through these cities that they're stopping in on, as opposed to people going into a church and going to see Christ,” said Bethany Ippolito, acting communications director for the Blessed Michael McGivney Parish in New Haven.

This is one of the largest-scale Eucharistic pilgrimages of its kind and part of a revival movement to “rekindle” belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist among Catholics, said David Elliott, associate director of communications of the Archdiocese of Hartford, which has been coordinating the pilgrimage.

Along with the route that began in New Haven, pilgrims embarked from Minnesota, Texas and California. They will converge in Indianapolis, Ind., in July for the 10th National Eucharisitic Congress, which is being held for the first time in 83 years and is expected to draw thousands of people.

The volunteer pilgrims, many of them young people hailing from around the country, were selected through a “rigorous” application process, according to Ippolito. They will receive a small stipend and rely on the hospitality of churches and parishes they stay with along the way, she said.

“The whole idea of Biblically being a pilgrim is that you're kind of giving up everything,” Ippolito said. “You give up all these comforts, so that you have the ability to grow spiritually and focus on things like prayer, and focus on things like being really gracious to the hospitality of others.”

After Bridgeport, stops included Fairfield, Ridgefield and Norwalk, according to a route map. The group continued through Darien, Stamford and Greenwich in the following days.

The pilgrims plan to pass through Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y., New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio before reaching Indiana.

New Haven was likely selected as the starting point for the eastern route because the international Catholic men's service organization Knights of Columbus was founded at St. Mary’s Church by Father Michael McGivney, a Waterbury native, in 1882, taking Christopher Columbus as its patron. McGivney’s crypt is at St. Mary’s.

Last year, New Haven’s eight Roman Catholic churches merged to form the Blessed Michael McGivney Parish, in the hope of uniting the Catholic community and more successfully spreading the Catholic faith. Blessed Michael McGivney is on track to become canonized and would be Connecticut’s first saint, Bethany said.

Elliott said they were honored to be chosen as one of the four routes.

“So much of spirituality is dependent on faith, that which we believe but maybe cannot necessarily see in front of us,” Elliott said. “A pilgrimage, which is a literal path, I think provides a great way for giving us spiritual focus, and maintaining that focus.”

Elizabeth L. T. Moore is a reporter with the New Haven Register. Moore has published bylines with Bloomberg News, The Virginian-Pilot and The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Moore placed nationally in the Hearst Collegiate Journalism Program, and she is fluent in Spanish.


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