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Article: Pilgrimage Route will visit Baltimore, honor Seton

By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Herald


Note: This article originally appeared in the Baltimore Catholic Herald on April 7, 2024.





As the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis this summer approaches, four groups of eight to 10 people each will set off from the points in the north, south, east and west of the country to carry the Eucharist into cities and towns along the way.


The pilgrims will often travel on foot, processing with a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. Even when moving by vehicle, the Eucharist will be protected in a support vehicle tabernacle.

The eastern route is named for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint in the church. With Mother Seton’s ties to Maryland, it seemed obvious that the pilgrims’ route should connect to the places she called home.


“I feel like this is kind of the culmination of Elizabeth’s journey here in Emmitsburg, both as a person and in her time on Earth,” said Becca Corbell, associate director of programs at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg. As the “permanent” pilgrims – the group making a monthslong journey via eucharistic caravan from New England to Indiana – come through Maryland, they and members of the public who join them will have a chance to see where Mother Seton lived, worked and died in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.


National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. (CR file)

They will also have a chance to visit where St. Elizabeth Ann started her ministry on Paca Street in downtown Baltimore.


As the pilgrim caravan comes from Pennsylvania into Maryland, it will first stop June 5 in Westminster at St. John Catholic Church, where a 2.2-mile eucharistic procession at 5 p.m. will be followed by a cookout.

The pilgrimage continues June 6 at the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg, beginning with 8:30 a.m. Mass celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori. The archbishop is encouraging all parishes in the area to invite their regular daily Massgoers to come to the shrine for the Mass.


A 1.4-mile solemn procession follows the Mass. After lunch, another procession will “Walk in the Footsteps of Mother Seton.” Corbell notes pilgrims need to be prepared because the 3.5-mile afternoon route has a 750-foot increase in elevation toward the end. The route includes four stops for Benediction, so those who cannot make the uphill walk can stop to pray at one of the sites.


The day will include Mother Seton School, the direct descendent of the school the saint founded in 1809 as the first school for Catholic girls in the country, as well as the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes, where she often attended Mass. 


“There’s a lot of really beautiful moments that I think are going to happen,” Corbell said. 


“We’re all hoping that (pilgrims) meet Jesus in the Eucharist in a new way and remember – or realize for the first time – how much we need the Eucharist and how much we need Jesus in our lives,” she said.


“I think Elizabeth is a great model for that – of relying on the Eucharist and relying on our Lord and what she called his ‘most adorable divine will.’ I think we’re all just hoping that the faithful, myself included, are reinvigorated or meet Christ in a new way.”


Upon leaving Emmitsburg, the caravan will head to the Cathedral of Mary Queen June 6 for a 6 p.m. vespers service, with eucharistic preacher Father Leo Patalinghug. Father Patalinghug is an acclaimed chef and founder and chairman of the Table Foundation, which will have its Plating Grace and Grub food truck on hand after vespers to offer meals.


The following day, the pilgrimage will focus on downtown Baltimore, with Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Cathedral Street. Archbishop Lori will celebrate the Mass, and is again encouraging all parishes in the area to move their daily Mass to join at the Baltimore basilica.


A solemn procession follows, which will stop at the St. Jude Shrine at Saratoga and Paca streets, ending at the St. Mary’s Historic Site on Paca Street, where Mother Seton lived and began her ministry.


The permanent pilgrims will help serve the mid-day meal at Our Daily Bread, a Catholic Charities program that has not missed a day of feeding those in need in more than four decades.


An afternoon walk will wind through east Baltimore, with about nine stops for brief prayers along the way at churches and other facilities. The 4.9-mile path, which should take about three hours, will end at Patterson Park and nearby St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, part of the parish of St. Casimir at Canton and Patterson Park.


Deacon Kevin Hostutler of St. Louis in Clarksville and St. Francis of Assisi in Fulton, serves on the archdiocesan National Eucharistic Revival committee and will coordinate the city pilgrimage. 


Priests will lead the procession, he said. “There’s something about bringing the Eucharist into the heart of the city, the hope that it represents.” 


He said he hopes some people will see the procession and be curious or inspired to find out what’s going on. 

The stops for the afternoon route will be announced in advance so that people can join the walk for a segment or two, if they wish, or just meet and pray with the pilgrimage at a stop, he said.


“It’s the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. It’s the light of Christ as we bring it to a city that, in so many ways, is desperate for that hope, desperate for the light of Christ, desperate for just finding a way to God,” Deacon Hostutler said. 


The day will end with evening prayer and Benediction before the pilgrim caravan sets off for the Archdiocese of Washington.


The organizers hope that members of the public will join the pilgrimage processions wherever they can. So they can prepare for the size of the crowds, they encourage everyone who plans to participate to register at bit.ly/aob-nep, where participants can select the events they wish to attend. 


Lunches will be available for purchase or participants can bring their own for the June 6 day in Emmitsburg. For the June 7 dinner from the food truck, meals must be purchased in advance and attendees should bring their own folding chair or blanket for the outdoor meal at the cathedral.


Pilgrimage stops in the archdiocese

June 5

Westminster – St. John Church – 43 Monroe St. 

5 p.m. – Eucharistic procession (2.2 miles) 

6:30 p.m. – Cookout (free-will donation accepted) 


June 6

Emmitsburg – Seton Shrine – 339 S. Seton Ave. 

8:30 – Mass with Archbishop Lori 

9:30 a.m. – Solemn procession (1.4 miles) 

Noon p.m. – Lunch (available for purchase) 

1:30 p.m. – “Walk in the Footsteps of Mother Seton” (Seton Shrine to Lourdes Grotto – 3.5 miles) 


Baltimore – Cathedral of Mary Our Queen – 5200 N. Charles St. 

6 p.m. – Vespers and eucharistic preacher (Fr. Leo Patalinghug) 

6:45 p.m. – Plating Grace food truck (pre-purchase meal tickets online) 


June 7

Baltimore – Basilica of the Assumption – 409 Cathedral St. 

8:30 a.m. – Mass with Archbishop Lori 

9:30 a.m. – Solemn Procession (0.7 miles, Basilica to St. Mary’s Historic Site, 600 N. Paca St.) 


Baltimore – Our Daily Bread to Patterson Park

1:30 p.m. – Walk (4.9 miles) 

Email Christopher Gunty at editor@CatholicReview.org



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