October 27, 2006

Pilgrims inspired by pope, saints during their spiritual journey

Patricia and Raymond Mayer, members of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis, pray after receiving Communion during a pilgrimage Mass celebrated on Oct. 14 at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome.

Photo caption: Patricia and Raymond Mayer, members of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis, pray after receiving Communion during a pilgrimage Mass celebrated on Oct. 14 at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome.

By Sean Gallagher



Trina Trusty shouted these words of love for Pope Benedict XVI at the end of his general audience on Oct. 18 at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

Trusty, a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis, was part of the recent archdiocesan pilgrimage to Italy. Attendance at the audience was one of the last events on the journey’s itinerary.

At the start of the audience, Pope Benedict rode slowly around the crowd, coming just a few feet away from a large group of archdiocesan pilgrims. (Get more information and photos on our pilgrimage blog)

“It was pretty awesome to be able to be so close to Pope Benedict when he drove by and to actually look into his eyes,” Trusty said. “I just really admire him. I believe he’s a holy man. It meant a lot to me.”

After a week of visiting the resting places of many saints in Siena, Assisi and Rome, and witnessing the pope’s declaration of St. Theodora Guérin as Indiana’s first saint, the pilgrims shifted gears on their last day, listening to the pope reflect on the meaning of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot.

“It is a mistake to think that the great privilege of living in company with Jesus is enough to make a person holy,” said the pope, addressing pilgrims from around the globe that nearly filled St. Peter’s Square.

“The only way to avoid the pitfalls that surround us is to give ourselves entirely to Jesus, to enter into full

communion with him so that we think and act as he did in total obedience to the Father.”

Entering into communion with Jesus was a continual focus of the archdiocesan pilgrimage, with Mass being celebrated daily on the eight-day spiritual


On their first full day in Italy, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein solemnly blessed the pilgrims at the Basilica of St. Francis in Siena with what is described as a eucharistic miracle: 276-year-old consecrated hosts that are as fresh today as on the day they originally became the Body and Blood of Jesus.

For Catherine Creamer-Hadad, a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Carmel, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, the solemn Benediction and the subsequent opportunity for individual adoration were powerful.

“I just can’t believe that I was there,” said Creamer-Hadad, who prays regularly at her parish’s adoration chapel.

“I had read about it for years, and there it was.

It was very moving. My pictures didn’t turn out, needless to say, because I was so moved.”

For Franciscan Sister Rita Vukovic, an instructor at Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis, having the chance to participate in a celebration of the Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the home of the spiritual father of her Oldenburg-based religious community, was a highlight of the pilgrimage.

“The greatest gift I’ve ever received from St. Francis is his inexhaustible love of the Eucharist,” Sister Rita said. “Almost everything

you see here is a living remembrance of St. Francis. What can I say?”

Visiting the tombs of St. Clare and St. Francis was inspiring for archdiocesan pilgrim Jo Donna Crandall, a member of St. Mary Parish in Mitchell.

“It’s amazing, the faith that they had,” she said. “It does make you inspired a little more to try to lead a better life.”

Kristina Quinn and Ron Birchler, participants in the archdiocesan pilgrimage, said they hope the journey as a whole will help them lead a better life together once they are married on Feb. 17 at St. Thomas More Church, their parish in Mooresville.

“As long as we keep God centered in our relationship and remember to love as he loves,” Quinn said, “there probably isn’t too much that we can’t work through.” †

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