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Article: St. Philip Church from Falls Church, VA, joins the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage

Sr. Marie Benedict Elliott,

Special to the Catholic Herald (Original article HERE)


Father Denis M. Donahue, pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Church in Falls Church, knew his parishioners wanted to be part of the multifaceted National Eucharistic Revival. It was just a matter of how.

So, seven months ago he began a course for them that included readings and discussions about the Eucharist and the life of Christ. It culminated in the parish’s participation in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, part of the U.S. bishops’ revival initiative, at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Md., June 6.

The pilgrimage’s eastern route and shrine share the same patron saint. The perpetual pilgrims began their journey May 17 at the tomb of Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, in New Haven, Conn. They will meet pilgrims from the three other national routes July 16 at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. In Emmitsburg, some 90 St. Philip parishioners were among the estimated 1,500 participants who walked 3.7 miles in 90-degree heat to reach Mount St. Mary’s University and Seminary and the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.

“They love the Eucharist,” Father Donahue said of his parishioners. “They know what the bishops have asked for. They know being in this procession is a witness to our faith — having people wondering why these people are walking this way.”

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori celebrated Mass prior to the procession.

“It is really an honor to be under the patronage of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton,” said Marina Frattaroli, one of six perpetual pilgrims on the eastern route. “When I’ve worn her relic, it has been an amazing day of pilgrimage where I feel particularly called and encouraged to embody some of the virtues that St. Elizabeth Ann Seton taught us, including her boldness and fearlessness in evangelizing and communicating facets of the Catholic faith to other people.”

“We were stopped at one point and a man came out of his house,” said Teri Flach, a St. Philip parishioner. “He had a statute of Mary in his yard. There was a young girl in front of me who turned to him and beckoned for him to come, and he came down to the end of the driveway and prayed with us. Three houses up, a young family with a mother and father and two children did come out and join us and continued to walk with us.”

Father Donahue celebrated Mass for the St. Philip pilgrims at the chapel at St. Mary’s Seminary, where he attended and where he developed a special devotion to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

“She was a convert and it was the Eucharist that drew her,” he said. “And that is what we need to know. Life is tough for everyone. We need consolation. We need guidance. And that is what the Lord does for us. The Real Presence converted her, and the more Catholics know about the Real Presence and believe in him, the more he will benefit us all personally.”

Susan Migliore, a St. Philip parishioner agreed.

“There’s nothing more important than honoring Our Lord in the Eucharist and being a public witness that Jesus is truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity. I was thinking at Mass just what an incredible gift this is that cost him and his dear mother so — and we wanted to honor that and share the joy of knowing Christ this way.”

Sr. Marie Benedict Elliott, director of youth ministry at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Falls Church, contributed to this story.


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