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Day 22 — Following Mary's Physical and Interior Eucharistic Pilgrimage in DC

WASHINGTON, DC, June 8 — On the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage began the day with Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and then had a huge procession in the Brookland neighborhood of the nation's capital in the area around the Shrine.

Within a packed Upper Church of the National Shrine, Mass was celebrated by Bishop Evilio Menjivar-Ayala, auxiliary bishop of Washington, with Cardinal Donald Wuerl and several dozen priests as concelebrants.

The homilist for the Mass was Father Michael Fuller, General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He preached on the importance of following Mary's interior pilgrimage as we make, like she did many times, a physical journey.

"From the moment of [her] encounter with the Archangel Gabriel to her journey to visit Elizabeth, to Bethlehem, to the Temple…. through it all Mary was on a pilgrimage with the Real Presence of Christ."

Focusing on St. Luke's words about how Mary "kept all these things in her heart," he commented, "A pilgrimage is an outward journey that triggers an inward journey. A journey of the heart. In her heart, Mary encountered her Son in the most profound way…. In this Eucharistic Pilgrimage Jesus walks with us on an outward journey all the while wanting to come into our hearts more deeply."


He concluded, "Today, and every day of this pilgrimage, let us imitate the heart of Mary and take in the real Presence of our Lord. Let us ponder in our hearts all that He has done for us, and all that he desires for us. Let us sing of His salvation and rejoice in His love. … Let our outward journey with the Lord bring us deeper into the interior journey of faith and let the Lord guide our hearts."

After Mass, there was a period of Eucharistic Adoration in the Basilica followed by a huge Eucharistic Procession through the area around the Shrine.

There were several stations of the pilgrimage: one of the entrances to the Catholic University of America on Michigan Avenue, the convent of the Dominicans of St. Cecilia, the convent of the Religious Sisters of Mary Immaculate, the Dominican House of Studies, the grounds of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Rosary Garden across from the Basilica, and the National Shrine of John Paul II on Harewood Road.

At each of these outdoor stations, a passage was read from Sacred Scripture and a brief reflection given. At the St. John Paul II National Shrine, a Eucharistic benediction by Bishop Menjivar was given to the more than 1,000 people who had completed the three hour journey.

The Mass and Eucharistic Procession were the only events on the schedule for the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage for the day.

During the afternoon, Seton Route chaplain Father Roger Landry and several of the pilgrims visited St. Patrick's Church, where the first National Eucharistic Congress was held, October 2-3, 1895. St. Patrick's pastor, Father Patrick Lewis, had put on display the monstrance used during that first National Eucharistic Congress as well as created a display with details of what took place.

He invited Father Landry in his capacity as a National Eucharistic Preacher to celebrate the 5:30 Mass and to preach.

St. Patrick's Church is the oldest Church in Washington, DC, founded in 1794 by Bishop William Carroll of Baltimore to serve the Irish laborers in the city who were helping to build the White House. The present Church is the third on the site and was finished in 1884, 11 years before the National Eucharistic Congress.

In his homily, Father Landry said that the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage that had come to Washington, DC, is one of the principal ways that the Church in the United States is preparing for the tenth National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-21. He noted that there would never be a tenth Congress unless there were a first.

He said that along the Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Congress, the pilgrims are able to visit the sites of four of the previous National Eucharist Congresses: St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, site of the third National Eucharistic Congress in 1904; St. Paul's Cathedral in Pittsburgh, site of the fourth in 1907; St. Peter in Chain's Cathedral in Cincinnati, site of the fifth in 1911; and St. Patrick's in DC.

He focused his homily on what the preacher of the first Eucharistic Congress, Bishop John Keane, the founding president of Catholic University (where the National Eucharistic Congress would continue after the liturgical events at St. Patrick's) and former parochial vicar for twelve years of St. Patrick's Parish, had said during that first Congress, especially what Bishop Keane had said about the hard work of the devil to oppose the intimacy and friendship Christ seeks with us by means of his self-gift in the Holy Eucharist, themes present in the readings for Mass for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B).

After Mass, Father Lewis hosted a reception in the vestibule of the Church for parishioners in attendance to be able to meet the National Eucharistic Pilgrims.

Here are photos from the day.

These photos are from the FaceBook pages of the Archdiocese of Washington and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Here is a Facebook post with additional photos from the Saint John Paul II Shrine.


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