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Article: Priest says he’s amazed at pilgrimage’s impact

Thanks to Tim Puet and the team at The Catholic Times of Columbus for this article, published on July 11, and for all their wonderful coverage of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.



The priest leading the St. Elizabeth Seton route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage says people’s reaction to the event was far more enthusiastic than he had anticipated.


“We knew the pilgrimage would be giving witness to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and expected a warm response, but have been amazed by the enthusiasm with which it has been greeted at every stop,” Father Roger Landry said.


“Through taking part in this event over two months, we will be witnesses to Christ’s Eucharistic love for the rest of our lives,” he said on Monday, June 24 from Somerset St. Joseph Church, the first of seven stops the pilgrimage made in Columbus on its way to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis on July 17-21.


The Seton pilgrimage began May 17 in New Haven, Connecticut and traveled through parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia and West Virginia before arriving in the Diocese of Steubenville. From Columbus, it was to travel to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati into Indiana, stopping at 18 dioceses altogether.


Father Landry estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people had taken part in Masses, processions and other events during the pilgrimage’s first five weeks, with several thousand more reading daily updates on the pilgrimage blog.


“Our events filled churches large and small, including New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which seats about 2,500 people. We would be happy if just one person became a Eucharistic soul as a result of the pilgrimage, but we have every expectation that the impact was much greater than that.


“One of the events that most impressed me along the way was an outdoor Mass at St. Francis College in Loretto, Pennsylvania. It drew about 700 people, all of whom brought lawn chairs. That was more than we expected, and the sense was that these people were really ready to pray, not just to go to a Sunday Mass that happened to start at 7 p.m.,” he said.


“Another memorable occurrence came when the pilgrims left Manhattan and the Archdiocese of New York, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into the Diocese of Brooklyn and handed the Eucharist to a group led by your former bishop, Robert Brennan.


“Crossing the bridge, taking the Eucharist from one group to another was to me a symbol of the path God took on becoming man in the person of Jesus Christ and of the Eucharist serving as a bridge between God and man,” Father Landry said.


“When plans for the congress and the current National Eucharistic Revival were announced in 2022, I knew I wanted to do something special and memorable to show my love for the Eucharist. Talking with other priests, the idea of doing something like a charity walkathon came up. This wouldn’t be to raise money but to raise awareness of the Eucharist.


“We were catalysts for that idea. Once the plans for the four pilgrimages were made, I checked the calendar at Columbia University, where I’m chaplain, and found I could be part of the entire pilgrimage because school would be done, so I committed myself to it.”


Father Landry said he and the core group of pilgrims are getting an idea of what it must have been like for the apostles to travel with Jesus, stopping at a different place to rest each night, then going back nn the road. Most of the pilgrims’ resting places have been at churches, schools or private homes, with only one or two hotel stops.


Father Landry is a native of Lowell, Massachusetts and a priest of the diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, where he served as a pastor, newspaper editor and high school chaplain. He was part of the staff of the Holy See’s permanent mission to the United Nations from 2015 to 2022, when he became chaplain at Columbia.


He was ordained a priest on June 26, 1999 and celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination during the pilgrimage stop at Pickerington St. Elizabeth Seton Parish.


“I wanted to be a priest for as long as I can remember,” he said. “At about age 4, I thought a priest was the luckiest person in the world because he could hold God between his fingers. That thought was a seed that eventually flourished.”


He said that besides celebrating Mass, the greatest joys of his priesthood come from hearing confessions and preaching. He was selected by Pope Francis to be a Papal Missionary of Mercy in 2015.


“I hope the best effect of this pilgrimage and jubilee will be to plant seeds of faith in people and see those seeds grow, with the result that eventually those people will go on to plant the seed in others,” he said.



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