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Day 3: Learning from Mary, Mother of the Church

NORWALK, CT, May 20 — The third day of the 65-day Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage was a day in which there was a steady focus on Mary, Mother of the Church, whose liturgical memory Catholics remember since 2018 on the day after Pentecost.

The day began at the Cathedral of Saint Augustine in Bridgeport, where diocesan Bishop Frank Caggiano celebrated Mass for pilgrims, school children and many others in attendance. He preached on the two gifts Jesus bequeathed us at the end of his life: himself in the Holy Eucharist and, from the Cross, his mother.

After Mass, there was a Eucharistic procession from the Cathedral to the Shrine of St. Margaret. At. St. Margaret there was a Rosary procession, together with the Blessed Fruit of Mary's womb in the Eucharist, across the extensive outdoor series of altars and statues dedicated to the Mother of the Church under various titles, Calvary, St. Pio of Pietrelcina and more. The time at St. Margaret finished with adoration and benediction within the beautiful Church on the Shrine grounds.

From there, the National Eucharistic pilgrims journeyed by car to Our Lady of the Assumption in Fairfield, where there was an outdoor altar set up where pastor Father Mirek Stachurski, deacons of the parish, school children, teachers, parents, parishioners and more listened to reflections of St. John Paul II, said various litanies and adored the Lord together.

Next the pilgrims drove with the Blessed Sacrament 5 miles to St. Thomas Church in Fairfield, where they were greeted by Fr. David Roman and hundreds of students at St. Thomas School waiting for the arrival of the Eucharistic Jesus. Upon arrival, students fell to their knees as Father Roger Landry, chaplain to the Seton Route, handed the custodia with the Blessed Sacrament to parish pastor Fr. David Roman, who processed with the Eucharist to the altar and incensed. Students lined both sides of aisle as Fr. Roman processed and fell to their knees as Jesus was passing.

During the two hours of adoration at St. Thomas, the sixth grade choir sang beautiful hymns to Jesus and recited the Rosary. Father Landry was asked to give a reflection and he spoke about the parish's and school's patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, and what he has taught us about the Eucharist, especially through three phrases in the Eucharistic hymns he composed for the celebration of the first Corpus Christi feast in 1264.

After Benediction and the recitation of the Divine Praises, Fr. Landry processed with the Blessed Sacrament in a custodia, a small container for the luna that holds the Eucharist that is placed in a monstrance, to the Seton Route's support van, where, together with the Route's pilgrims, they proceeded to drive 20 miles to the Church of St. Mary in Ridgefield.

At St. Mary's, pastor Msgr. Kevin Royal greeted Fr. Landry at the door and processed with the custodia to the altar, where he placed the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance. After a 15-minute period of quiet adoration, Msgr. Royal led the packed Church, including Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, in Solemn Vespers for the Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church. After the reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians, Fr. Roger Landry preached on how Mary is mother and model for us in how to relate to her Son, Jesus, in the Eucharist.

After Vespers, there was a Eucharistic procession through Ridgefield to Ballard Park, where a stational altar had been set up for adoration and benediction. Msgr. Royal carried the Blessed Sacrament and imparted benediction for the approximately 300 people present. After Benediction at the temporary altar in Ballard Park, the Eucharistic proceession continued back to St. Mary's Church, where there was a concluding benediction. Fr. Landry placed the luna anew into the custodia and returned to the van, where, together with his fellow pilgrims, they journeyed 15 miles to the Church of the Assumption in Westport, knestled against the Saugatuck River.

There Fr. Cyrus Bartolome greeted the van upon arrival and processed with the custodia containing the Blessed Sacrament to the altar, where he placed the host within the monstrance and incensed. Then he led the 100 people present, including Bishop Caggiano, in sung vespers, during which there was a reflection by a Carmelite father on the dark night of the soul and how the Eucharistic Jesus leads us through the dark valley. After benediction, Fr. Landry placed the Blessed Sacrament once more in the luna and together with the pilgrims, they drove five miles to St. Mary's Church in Norwalk, the final stop of the day.

At St. Mary's, pastor Fr. John Ringley received the Blessed Sacrament and processed with clergy and about 20 altar servers to the altar while the extraordinary organ of the Church played and several hundred faithful greeted the Lord. A tabor had been set up high within the high altar of the parish, and Father Ringley needed a stepping stool to climb. After incensing the Blessed Sacrament, Father Ringley led Solemn Vespers in Latin, English and Spanish, during which Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport gave a reflection on Mary and the Eucharist.

After Vespers there was a candlelight procession throughout the neighborhood surrounding the parish. Bishop Caggiano carried the Blessed Sacrament under a canopy. Various Gregorian Eucharistic chants were sung by the parish choir. After returning to the Church, Bishop Caggiano placed Jesus on the altar and encouraged all present to spend time with Jesus throughout the night, where Eucharistic adoration would continue until 8 am the following morning.

The Seton Route pilgrims returned to their accommodations at the Villa Guadalupe Retreat House of the Sisters of Life at 10 pm.

Here is a gallery of photos from the day.


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