Pilgrims ready to carry cross of faith during annual event

A new wrinkle has been added to the annual Youth and Young Adult Pilgrimage.

Using an idea from Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, the March 27 walk through Baltimore City will start with the sacrament of reconciliation.

More than 25 priests will hear confessions on the lawn of St. Mary’s Spiritual Center and Historical Site on Paca Street. Reconciliation will lead into a rally, which will gather the estimated 1,300 participants at St. Mary’s in song, prayer and celebration.

In his invitation letter to priests, Archbishop O’Brien wrote: “The young church yearns for Christ’s mercy and forgiveness … the opportunity to reconnect this many young people and adults with the sacrament of reconciliation presents to the archdiocese a unique occasion for evangelization.”

Anticipation for the three-mile walk has been building, including on a Facebook page dedicated to the pilgrimage. The bilingual band “Who Do You Say That I Am” will be the featured guest artists.

Kristin Witte, coordinator for pastoral care in the archdiocese’s division of youth and young adult ministry, said the theme for this year’s pilgrimage is “We Believe: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” and draws from the core Catholic beliefs of the Trinity and the Creed.

Witte said the involvement of priests is especially poignant in the “Year for Priests.” She said participants will celebrate the presence and dedication of clergy in the archdiocese.

After the rally, participants will march through the city, a massive cross carried at the front.

The group will divide in two, with one headed to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the other to St. Jude Shrine. The groups will reunite at War Memorial Plaza for prayer, then move to O’Donnell Park in Canton and finally to St. Casimir, for Palm Sunday Mass.

Organizers are recommending pilgrims wear weather appropriate clothing and pack afternoon meals and water. They are also asked to bring gift cards, which will be donated to Sarah’s House, a Catholic Charities program that provides transitional housing for 22 homeless families.

“The pilgrimage is an opportunity for celebration across the whole diocese each year,” said Scott Miller, interim director of the archdiocese’s youth and young adult division. “Young people gather to share and learn more about their faith in a manner that demands that they actually engage in walking in solidarity with their church.”

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.