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Seton Pilgrims Thank and Bid Adieu to Another Team of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

From left to right: Brother Felix Connolly, CFR, Father Joseph Mary Deane, CFR, Brother Philip John Gorham, CFR, and Brother Joshua Miriam Van't Slot, CFR.

MOUNT LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA, June 15 — The Seton Route Pilgrims of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage expressed their gratitude and good byes to Father Joseph Mary Deane, CFR, who accompanied them over their last week, and to the three novices, Brothers Joshua Miriam Van't Slot, Felix Connolly and Philip John Gorham, who have been with them for the previous two weeks.

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal are on all four routes of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, with priests and brothers joining each route normally for a week at a time.

Father Joseph Mary entered the CFRs in 1996, professed his first vows two years later, his final vows in 2002 and was ordained a priest in 2003. He is presently ministering in Limerick, Ireland.

He said the highlights of his seven days on the pilgrimage have been "seeing the faith of the people, their reverence or love for Jesus in the Eucharist, how alive their faith is and how hungry they are for God."

He was also very edified by the "faithfulness and their zeal for the Lord" of the Seton pilgrims.

"In so many places where I work in Europe, the faith is is not dead, but it's suffering. To see the beautiful, lively examples of faith on this pilgrimage was a real joy," he added.

He said he is very proud of his community for its commitment to making the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage happen. He said their participation really flows from the heart of their charism.

Participation in such a Eucharistic pilgrimage, he stated, "just makes perfect sense. It's right in our wheelhouse. This is what we do. We're very missionary community. One of our main charisms is evangelization and we have a great love and devotion for our Lord in the Eucharist. That's who we are. That's what we do. So this was a natural fit. I'm proud of our superior and our community for saying yes, and for stepping up and for doing this."

He said that his participation this week was a reminder "of what's possible, not just for Ireland but for all of Europe. I feel a great desire for the re-evangelization of Europe. Being part of something like this just helps me realize, in my big dreams, for the re-evangelization of the whole continent of just what's possible, that there is still a lot of faith out there and that we can do big things for the Lord, we can dream big, and that the Lord, if he puts the desire in your heart, will give you the grace to make it happen!"

Brother Philip John Gorham, who, like his fellow novices anticipates making first vows on August 3, reflected on the highlights of his two weeks on the road with Jesus and the Seton Pilgrims.

"The highlight of the two weeks has been just watching as we bring Jesus into each of the parish churches. Seeing the welcome that people give, even if it's just for like a brief stop, even five minutes. The elaborateness of their welcoming the Lord into their church, into their lives, has just been beautiful. Little flower girls putting rose petals down for the priests to walk on with Jesus. You can tell that they spent hours putting up decorations knowing we're only going to be there a few minutes. But they really wanted to prepare the way for the Lord."

He said that participation in the pilgrimage has strengthened the lessons he has learned over the past year as a novice.

"A lot of what we have as a novice is just to receive what the Lord has to give and allow him to do the work. So much of the pilgrimage involves not knowing what the circumstances of the day will be, how things are going to come together, but the Lord does. He's really preparing the way for himself by inspiring people to come and be present for him, calling them deeper do himself," Br. Philip John said.

He anticipates the lessons will help him in his future as a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, especially "the humble witnesses of all these people who have came to see Jesus. On days when it's hard to enter into prayer, I will be able to remember the times that I saw people make big sacrifices just to be with the Lord and never take a moment with him for granted."

Brother Joshua Miriam Van't Slot said that he's particularly loved "being in adoration, especially in 'mobile adoration' with Jesus exposed in monstrance the [Pilgrimage support] van, and on the streets of different cities, like Kensington [Philadelphia], where Jesus came in the midst of such poverty. It helped me to see and realize how much our Lord desires to be with the people whom we're passing, in the land that we're we're driving through. He's desired it since the beginning of time and he just wants to be with his people. He just wants to be with us."

His participation in the pilgrimage, Brother Joshua said, has "definitely helped me to learn how to to pray and be active at the same time. Being in the van with Jesus exposed in the monstrance is such a good image and icon of what we're supposed to be like: to be on the move going from from parish to parish ministering to people, but adoring in our hearts the whole time."

He said his two weeks on the pilgrimage "have given me a deeper faith in Jesus' true presence," which he hopes "will continue to bear fruit long term."

Brother Felix Connolly said he was very moved "to see the faith of all the people coming to the events of the pilgrimage, and to witness how hard each diocese we visited has so many people who love our Lord and priests who are leading people closer to our Lord in the Eucharist."

He said it has also been a grace to "be with the perpetual pilgrims and with the priests on our pilgrimage and to get to know other people who just have a deep love for our Lord and and want to spread love of Him throughout the country."

He said his time on the road with Jesus has reinforced his appreciation for his community's charism which involves "deep love for our Lord in the Eucharist and a commitment to evangelization. It's beautiful to witness to the love that my community has helped me foster within my own heart for the Eucharist."

It has also helped him to see "the people that my vocation is for, the people I'm praying for, the reason why I'm growing in love of the Lord and going be consecrated to him, which is to witness to the vocation that we're all called to in heaven: to be totally the Lord's."

A native of Pittsburgh, he said it was particularly special to finish the pilgrimage in his hometown.

"It's been so beautiful to invite my family into the pilgrimage, to our times of adoration and procession. It's also been great to come home with my fellow friars and to bring my love for the Lord and the vocation to which he's called me to the place where I was born and raised."


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