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Article: When and where the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage will visit Altoona Johnstown Area

Beth Ann Miller

The Daily American (Link to original article)

June 5, 2024 | 4:55am



JOHNSTOWN ― A nationwide religious pilgrimage by members of the Catholic faith is scheduled to stop in Johnstown next week, visiting local historic sites of the faith as they head to Indianapolis for a National Eucharistic Congress in July. 


A group of pilgrims following the Seton route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is scheduled to stop in Loretto and Johnstown on Sunday and Monday, respectively. The Seton route, named after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Catholic church’s first American-born saint, is one of four pilgrimage routes taking place across the United States before the National Eucharistic Congress


Everyone is invited to participate in several events planned during the local leg of the pilgrimage, according to a release about the event from the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.  

“The local faithful will have the opportunity to welcome pilgrims at holy sites in the region, celebrate the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation, and publicly proclaim their devotion to the Eucharist as the source and summit of Catholic life,” the release said. 


When will the local events take place? 


The events begin at 5 p.m. Sunday with the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, 321 St. Mary St. in Loretto and at Our Lady of the Alleghenies Shrine, located next to the basilica. At 7 p.m., an outdoor Mass is to be held at the shrine, celebrated by the Rev. Mark Bartchak, bishop of the diocese. In the event of rain, the Mass will be held inside the basilica. At 8 p.m., a public procession will take place around the grounds of the basilica, followed by a talk by one of the national pilgrimage participants. 


Monday’s events begin at noon at St. John Gualbert Cathedral, 117 Clinton St. In Johnstown. Confessions will be heard from noon until 3 p.m. and the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will take place from noon until 3:45 p.m. Vespers start at 3:45 p.m. and at 4 p.m., a public procession will leave the cathedral and proceed on downtown streets, ending at Central Park. One of the national pilgrims will give remarks and then the procession will return to the cathedral, where Mass will begin at 5:30 p.m. with Bartchak officiating. 


The pilgrims will then head to Altoona for events on Tuesday at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and at St. Catherine of Siena parish in Duncansville before they head west for additional events in Pittsburgh and Ohio.  


The diocese also invites those who celebrated their First Holy Communion in 2024 and their families to attend the scheduled Masses and processions and wear their communion attire, according to a post on the diocese’s website. Those who are interested can contact their Catholic school principals or their parish director of religious education for more information. 




First national pilgrimage in over 80 years 


These processionals allow Catholics to publicly share their faith with others and celebrate their connection to a larger body of believers, said the Rev. Matthew Baum, rector at St. John Gualbert Cathedral.  


“This gives a chance for people to see who we are and what we do,” he said. “It gives the opportunity for someone to ask what we are doing, and it gives us the opportunity to share our faith and talk with the person who’s asking. It’s much easier to have a conversation when they have the opportunity to ask the questions.” 


Baum said that while the St. John Gualbert parish has held its own processions over the last few years, the last time a national pilgrimage like this took place was in the 1920s or 1930s, where pilgrims traveled by train to visit communities like Johnstown. 


“(The pilgrimage) is exciting because it gives us a sense of being part of a much larger church,” he said. “We’re part of a universal church and a national church, where the same Mass is celebrated.  


“This helps us to be connected to that bigger church and it helps us witness on a wider scale to what we believe.” 


Those who would like to participate in either day‘s events can just show up, and those who aren’t able to walk in the procession are welcome to participate in the other scheduled events, Baum said. 


In addition, those who want to follow the pilgrims online as they travel the various routes may do so at eucharisticpilgramage.org or on the National Eucharistic Revival pages on Facebook or Instagram.   




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