Webster’s dictionary defines a pilgrim as “one who travels to a holy place.” While we may find a definition of what a pilgrim or pilgrimage is, it is harder to define the journey of the heart that takes place as a result of a pilgrimage.
On September 25, Monsignor Patrick A. Schumacher, pastor of the Church of St. Wenceslaus in Dickinson, along with 45 pilgrims departed the U.S. for the St. Wenceslaus Centennial Pilgrimage.
We arrived in Prague, Czech Republic, for the feast of St. Wenceslaus and our group was fortunate to take part in vespers, the holy Mass and the procession of the relics of St. Wenceslaus at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.
The Christian faith was taught to St. Wenceslaus by his grandmother, St. Ludmila, and was later martyred by his own brother in 935. Celebrating Mass, the central element of our faith, on our parish’s feast day in the presence of our patron saint’s relics was truly a blessed experience; one that we continue to work to understand and cherish. We also celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Victory in Prague in the presence of the Infant Child of Prague statue.
While in Rome we visited many holy sites including the four major basilicas and the catacombs. We enjoyed a papal audience with Pope Francis, viewed the burial site of St. Peter during a Scavi tour and were privileged to celebrate Mass in his crypt. As I sat there in the crypt, nearing the end of our long anticipated pilgrimage, I thought about St. Peter and St. Wenceslaus, martyrs and saints who continue to direct the faithful to our God, the source of our strength, joy, peace and being. I also thought about how each of us, 46 in all, started the pilgrimage with different expectations, yet encountered Christ in our own way, grew in our faith, and felt the Holy Spirit as our continual guide. As pilgrims, we knew we were traveling to holy sites, but none of us knew exactly the journey our hearts would take. What can be said, however, is that this pilgrimage truly was a blessing.
Bengtson currently serves as pastoral assistant at the Church of St. Wenceslaus, Dickinson.
Participants in the St. Wenceslaus Centennial Pilgrimage to Prague, Munich and Rome were: Msgr. Patrick A. Schumacher, pastor; John & Jean Bachler, Sarah Bengtson, Barb Braun, Helen Christianson, Pete & Jeanie Deichert, Jo Hayden, Don & Jackie Heidt, Wayne Heiman, Ann Hoff, Gene & Diane Hoyt, Deanna Johnson, Lila Kalvoda, Richard & Donna King, Robert & Donna King, Bernie & Paulette Marsh, Chad & Tammy Meyer, Terry & Karin Millner, Viola Paluck, Joanie Oksendahl, Charles & Joan Schaefbauer, John & Sharon Schmidt, Tom & Rita Schneider, Donavon & Margaret Schumacher, Ed & Renae Sticka, Todd & Karol Wandler, John & Kathy Wegleitner, Penny Wetzstein, Louie & Sylvia Zachmeier. The group is pictured above at St. Peter’s Basilica.
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