Head to The Julia Greeley Guild to learn more about Denver’s Angel of Charity and The Society of Servant Pilgrims to learn more about Pilgrim Ann’s Ministry

MONDAY, MARCH 18

The latest photos were taken as I was walking between the villages of Gower & Eaton toward St Joseph, MO. Like most photos, there’s no town, just sprawling countryside… like the earlier Perrine Cemetery photo – the town dissolved long ago; only the cemetery remains. Google doesn’t even know.

Maybe you get the sense of the expanse & open distances as I walk on these gravel farm roads. No one, really, except the local farmers, uses them or even knows they exist. Great pilgrim paths, they are.

SUNDAY, MARCH 17

Mass last night after St Pat’s parade. Grumpy priest but friendly parishioners, a lovely couple offered their guest room to me & wonderful evening together.

Early this morning, I was interviewed for a local paper – Cameron Citizen-Observer; article to appear next week. Reporter, also KofC 4th deg, will try to get something in the KC-St Joe diocesan paper, too.
This ‘nice’ weather causes me to carry my winter clothes instead of wearing them – a heavy burden =[  but the scenery is undulating & expansive, so I attached a few photos of late winter western MO for you.
With Benedictines women tonight – gotta run to complines…”

Broadview, MO

Perrine Cemetary

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

Baptists last night – fascinated by Julia & the path from ‘heroic virtue’ to ‘Saint’ in modern times.  Back w Catholics tonight. 274 mi total from St Louis…passed through Hamilton this sunny windy day – quilt capital of America. Who knew?

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

WEEK 1 UPDATE

“It’s a strange experience carrying a phone. Remembering that I gave it has been a challenge, so many photo ops went unrecorded. I’m on a learning curve…

Holding Julia close, I walked north from St Louis on the western edge of the Mississippi River valley for four days to reach Hannibal. I passed several grand antebellum manor houses that Julia may have seen herself. Honestly, I felt an uneasiness walking by that facet of history even though my lineage was in Ireland long after the Civil War. I saw more than a few Confederate flags in display since my walk began.
Every day I have been telling people I encounter about Julia. Most of the Catholics have heard of her & connect her in context with Fr Augustine Tolton. Others listen to the story of Julia with interest but are more stunned that I’m walking to Denver rather than awed by the holy efforts of the woman inspiring me to do so.
In the first week I’ve had a bit of snow, rain, sunshine, & wind…I’m sure the mix will persist all the way to Denver. Enjoy your blizzard.”
St Louis – O’Fallon – Elsberry – Clarksville – Hannibal – Monroe City – Shelbina – Macon
Total of 164 miles by foot on mostly gravel farm roads, a few blacktop little roads & across a few fields.
I’ve gone to Mass 5 times & 1 Eucharistic Celebration.
I’ve enjoyed the hospitality of the Catholic church: 1x OP convent, 1x OSB retreat house, 2x rectories, & 3x parishioners’ homes.
In populated areas like here, I make a point of not carrying water so that I’m compelled to ask someone as I pass a farmhouse. It’s refreshing how many people (mostly Protestants maybe) who understand the Biblical significance of offering ‘even a glass of water’. Who am I to bring my own water & deny someone the opportunity to have his gesture rewarded in Heaven?”

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11
Ann visits Holy Rosary Catholic School in Monroe City, MO.

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

… the strong headwind made my 25 miles today more exhausting than they should have been, but I saw (and photo’d) a herd of buffalo, was followed by an affectionate Lab/Great Dane mix for 3 miles, and sat in on a Presbyterian Sunday School…. good day; night with a sole Dominican sister in a big convent…

Today – 25 mi / 117 cum.. reached Monroe City strong headwind; w Dominican sister tonight, will talk to school assembly tomorrow;  parochial school k-8

Small buffalo herd on prairie today.”

THURSDAY, MARCH 7
“Yesterday, Day 1, I walked 25 miles through grueling suburban sprawl to O’Fallon & stayed at the rectory of St Barnabas church. A deacon who remembered me from a speech I gave at a pilgrim conference in Belleville in 2014 was beside himself offering his assistance.

Today, 27 miles in on & off snow flurries for a cumulative of 52 miles. I’m staying in the comfortable home of an elderly parishioner in Elsberry. There’s a Catholic church but no resident priest. The priest from St Barnabas phoned a local family he knew prompting the community to discuss me at their Communion Celebration this morning. It’s great that the small community has all gotten involved. They’re expecting a larger than usual group at  tomorrow’s Celebration so they can all meet me in person. It’s a pretty big deal that a pilgrim has come anyway, but a pilgrimage to Denver for Julia Greeley is even more noteworthy according to the folks I’ve met so far. Julia’s evidently well known here.
My walk to Hannibal is beneath impressive sandstone bluffs at the western edge of the floodplains of the Mississippi. Mostly, I’ve been on the old highway that’s largely abandoned except by local farmers.  It’s parallel to a railroad line that was constructed in 1871. Did Julia travel from Hannibal by train? If she did, the view of the bluffs couldn’t have changed much & though there are only a handful of houses, several are century farms. I was struck by some large chambers carved in the bluffs and remembered that my phone, though without service, has a camera, too. See the attached photo…

Julia may also have experienced the thousands upon thousands of migrating geese like I saw & heard today. Between the whistling of the trains & the squawking of the birds & the burbling snowmelt rushing toward the river, the soundtrack surely hasn’t changed much since Julia’s days in this area.

Enough for now – the widow’s gone to bed & I’m waiting for my laundry to finish. Tomorrow, I’ve got plans to visit more Benedictines & a fish fry at the American Legion. Pilgrim life rocks!

Peace!”

"The fact that Jesus was, from the very beginning, the Word, means that from the beginning God wants to communicate with us, He wants to talk to us. The Son of the Father wants to tell us about the beauty of being children of God. He is 'the life' who knows our lives and wants to tell us that He has always loved them. Jesus is the eternal Word of God, who has always thought of us and wanted to communicate with us. What, then, does He desire from us? A great intimacy!" FROM YOUR PASTOR Is your RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS...

"When we contemplate the Holy Family, we are attracted by their disarming humility. There is no room for them, not even a small room, yet they keep vigil. Mary keeps everything in her heart, while Joseph looks for a place for her and the Child who is about to be born. In order to receive the gifts of peace, joy, strength, and comfort, we need to feel small, poor and humble like the characters in the crib. In the midst of the suffering of the pandemic, Jesus, small and helpless, is the 'Sign' that God gives to the world."  -- Pope Francis   FROM YOUR PASTOR   In this COVID Christmas Season, what can we learn from the HOLY FAMILY?   In this Extraordinary Time, Families -- no matter how they are defined -- are paying one of the Highest COVID Prices -- isolation, loneliness, depression, hunger, reduced income, lost job, closed business, abuse, neglect, lack of internet access or computer equipment for on-line school, cramped house quarters, separation from schoolmates, children raising children, household internet competition, homelessness, suicide, drugs, or addictions.   As a Church Family, we meet Jesus at the Manger to serve as Spiritual Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, Sisters, and Brothers to these Families in Stress. Our time, talent, and treasure can offset some of their Spiritual, Emotional, Psychological, Physical, and Financial needs through Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.   In Solidarity, through our Baptism, the FAMILIES IN DISTRESS unite with their CHURCH FAMILY and together we become part of the HOLY FAMILY.   Through MARY, JOSEPH, and JESUS, we learn the Virtues and Values necessary in Christmas Season COVID Times.   Joseph is a good Provider for his wife and child. Mary is one with whom women could Share their problems. Mary is the example of the devoted wife and mother. And Jesus sees in his parents the Will of His Heavenly Father. As a Good Son, Jesus is called to Love his parents with tenderness.   The Holy Family is a family grounded in Harmony, Mutual Respect, Peace, and Unconditional Love.   So, why does this FAMILY WORK? Their life together emanates from their GOD-CENTERED LIVING. Doing the Father’s will makes the monumental challenges of THIS FAMILY livable– from the Conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, to his Birth in a Stable, to their Flight into Egypt, to losing Jesus in the Temple, to the growing tensions in Jesus’ Public Ministry, and finally to his Death on the Cross. A Family CENTERED IN GOD endures their trials through GRACE.   The most important REALITY for any FAMILY, regardless of its configuration, is the SALVATION OF THE SOULS of every member of that Family.   Every Mother should dedicate her Motherhood to the Blessed Mother, every Father should dedicate his Fatherhood to St Joseph, and all parents should Dedicate Their Children to the Blessed Mother as their Protector.   PARENTHOOD brings with it enormous responsibilities.  When and what you explain to your children about life is a conversation that should be Faith-Filled and include Thanking God for the Gift Of Life. A CHILD’S CHARACTER must be guided to maturity gently, but firmly, by...

“True, a worldwide tragedy like the Covid-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all. Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together." -- Pope Francis   FROM YOUR PASTOR   The Coronavirus Pandemic has exposed the FRAILTIES in Ourselves,  our Cultures, and our World. It has proved to be the most Spiritual, Emotional, Psychological, Physical, and Financial TIME OUT of Contemporary Times. Faith, Family, and Community have taken on New Meaning and innovative Forms of Expression.   The Crisis of Isolation and Loneliness has resulted in Abuse, Neglect, Hopelessness, Depression, Suicide, and Violence. The Grace of Introspection has led to Everyday Heroes, Generosity Beyond Imagination, and Gratitude for Basic Necessities. The Freedom of Time has allowed for a Rethinking and Resetting of Priorities in a Post Pandemic World.   The False Prophets have defined the Pandemic to be the Curse of God on a godless World. People of Faith recognize that this is a time of Growing Fraternity as declared by the Holy Father to use our Time, Talent, and Treasure to bring Joy, Love, Peace, and Hope to others.   It is also a time for us to ask ourselves, 'What does Jesus want ME to learn from this time and experience?' The answer for each of us is different. For me, it has led to a Realignment of my Prayer Life, and Understanding of the Relationships throughout my life, and an Acceptance of God's Forgiveness of my sins.The implications not only affect me, but those that God has placed in my care.   While the Answers may be Different For YOU, the Manifestations may be Life-Changing. Why? Because God will not only give you the Grace to endure these Realizations, but He will also place the people, events and circumstances in your life necessary to make the Outcomes part of Your Daily Life...

"Joseph is a man who goes 'unnoticed,' who welcomes the mystery and puts himself at its service, never putting himself at the center, but who resolves things that are impossible...

"Advent reminds us that Jesus came among us and will come again at the end of time. Yet we can ask what those two comings mean, if he does not also come into our lives today? So let us invite him, Come, Lord Jesus. Charity is the beating heart of the Christian...

"We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us now called to row together, each of us in need of comforting each other."  -- Pope Francis  FROM YOUR PASTOR  We begin a new Liturgical Year as Advent begins. Ironically, we began this New Year during the most Extraordinary Year of Our Contemporary Lifetimes.  How do we Comfort Ourselves and Comfort Others? How will the Newborn Christ Child help us Celebrate in Isolation, in Fear, in Grief, or in Desolation?  In our Solitude where is OUR HOPE? The spiritual, emotional,  psychological, financial, and physical challenges of the Pandemic have transitioned for many into stress, anxiety, fear, domestic abuse, panic, anger, addictions, poverty, suicide, distress, depression, violence, rioting...

“Like a sudden breaking storm, the coronavirus crisis has caught us all by surprise, abruptly changing on a global level our personal, public, family and working lives. This dramatic situation highlights the vulnerable nature of our human condition, limited as it is by time and contingency. It reminds us that we have forgotten or simply delayed attending to some of the key issues in life. It is making us evaluate what is really important and necessary, and what is of secondary or only superficial importance. The crisis has shown us that, especially in times of need, we depend on our solidarity with others. In a new way, it is inviting us to place our lives at the service of others. It should make us aware of global injustice and wake us up to the cry of the poor and of our gravely diseased planet." -- Pope Francis   FROM YOUR PASTOR   For Thanksgiving Weekend 2012, my Seminary Brothers, now Father Ivan Olmo of Orlando and Father  Michael Fragoso of Metuchen, and I visited Maryknoll in New York.   Our purpose was to visit Father Larry Murphy who then was well into his nineties… and is now well over a 100...

“Prayer is the rudder that guides Jesus’ course. Prayer is first of all an encounter with God. The problems of everyday life, then, do not become obstacles, but appeals from God Himself to listen  to and encounter those who are in front of us. Secondly, Jesus teaches us that prayer is an art that must be practiced with insistence. Thirdly, Jesus’ prayer is always solitary. Every person needs a space for him- or herself, to be able to cultivate the inner life, where actions find meaning. Finally, prayer as taught by Jesus is the place where we find that everything comes from God and returns to Him. Peace and joy is what we will find if we follow Jesus’ example of prayer." -- Pope Francis FROM YOUR PASTOR  Is your Prayer Life...