All too often, adult faith formation is approached as “CCD for Grownups” with settings that are little or no different than academic classroom settings for children. In reality, adult faith formation can and should take many forms. One opportunity that is often overlooked is that of the local pilgrimage.
As Catholics, we learn not only from Scripture but also from our Tradition. One of the great ways of learning from our Catholic Tradition is to visit holy sites that teach us about our faith and our faith heritage. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendour and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.”
Here’s an account from a pilgrim at St. Cajetan Parish in Chicago who participated in a recent local pilgrimage:
On Saturday, November 15, 2014, a group of pilgrims, 20 adults and eight children, boarded a bus at St. Cajetan and traveled to the Lincoln Park neighborhood for a tour of the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. We were all delighted to discover a beautiful “sacred place in the heart of Chicago.” Thanks to our well-informed docent we learned about the life of Mother Cabrini and the shrine’s unique celebration of architecture and art. We viewed two short films, toured the small museum, and stayed for Holy Mass before returning home. This shrine is a gem within minutes of St. Cajetan and would be well worth taking the whole family for a visit. Thanks to Fr. Frank and the Parish Life Committee for providing another wonderful opportunity.
A pastor friend of mine recently spoke highly of local pilgrimages when he explained to me that the bus ride gives him time to really talk to parishioners. “After Mass on Sunday, I get to talk to people for only a few quick minutes. On a bus ride, I can really get to know people.” Local pilgrimages can be an especially effective idea for young adults when combined with dinner at a nice establishment and/or stopping for a drink on the way back.
Here are just a few popular local pilgrimage sites in the Chicago area that can be accomplished in a day trip:
- National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
- Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help
- Shrine of Christ’s Passion
- Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
- National Shrine of St. Therese
Another great thing about local pilgrimages is that they make for great intergenerational experiences. As indicated above, the 20 adults from St. Cajetan brought along eight children! Here is a good article about local pilgrimages as well as some pictures from the pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. What are some good local pilgrimage ideas in your neck of the woods?