The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage: An Overview

This article was posted on: April 22, 2024

The NEP consists of four routes traversing across the nation with Jesus in the Eucharist, ultimately converging at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The second year of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival concludes this summer with the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage (NEP) and the National Eucharistic Congress (NEC). The NEP consists of four routes traversing across the nation with Jesus in the Eucharist, ultimately converging at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Along each pilgrimage route, Christ is carried at the front of the procession. This will be the first National Eucharistic Congress in 83 years.

The pilgrimage provides a uniquely powerful and personal way to encounter Jesus as He travels across the country toward the National Eucharistic Congress. Sharing His journey provides an opportunity to explore holy places across the country with Jesus, join others in adoration, Mass, eucharistic celebrations, Catholic concerts and speakers and encounter Jesus in all of these things with fellow pilgrims.

We are called to leave our homes and walk with Jesus, growing in faith and being inspired to bring Christ to everyone we meet. The NEP, along its four routes, provides an opportunity for everyone, of all faith traditions, to walk with Jesus in the source and summit of our Faith—for a short distance or all the way to Indianapolis.

Our Road to Emmaus

While most of the people traveling to the National Eucharistic Congress will proceed directly to the event, a dedicated group of national “perpetual” pilgrims will spend the entire 60 days processing Christ along each route, from start to finish, across the United States. Clergy and support personnel accompany the perpetual pilgrims.

To support the perpetual pilgrims along their months-long journey accompanying Christ, 1,000 hosts, consisting of lay families, parishes, religious orders and schools, are available to provide not only places for rest, nourishment and housing but also inspiration through local communities.

During any part of the NEP, those who join the perpetual pilgrims are critical to the pilgrimage and help constitute the eucharistic caravan, whether from the north, south, east or west.

Catholics from across the country will embark on a journey with Jesus to Indiana for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. The pilgrimage is not just about reaching a destination but also about visiting holy sites and churches along the way, making it a truly transformative experience. The NEP anticipates 100,000 people participating along the four planned routes.

The Four National Eucharistic Pilgrimage Routes

The Eastern Route: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route

Pilgrims from the eastern United States will travel along the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route, which starts in New Haven, Conn., runs along the Atlantic Coast, and crosses the Appalachian Mountains.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint to be canonized by the Catholic Church, was drawn to the Church by the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

In 1910, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton established the first free Catholic girls’ school, and she initiated the parochial school system in the United States.

Highlights of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton route:

  • Visit the tomb of Blessed Michael McGivney in Connecticut
  • Process the Blessed Sacrament through Manhattan in New York City
  • Visit the tombs of St. John Neumann and St. Katherine Drexel in Philadelphia
  • Pass through Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
  • Join with students at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!

The Western Route: St. Junipero Serra Route

The route of St. Junipero Serra, spanning over 2,200 miles across the western United States, is the longest pilgrimage journey. Travelers begin their journey in San Francisco, Cal. and make their way across the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains before ending at Indianapolis.

St. Junipero Serra, a missionary priest, spread the word of God to both the local indigenous people and the Spanish settlers living on the West Coast. During his ministry, which covered approximately 24,000 miles, he traveled mostly on foot to bring Jesus to those who may not have had the opportunity to hear about Him otherwise.

Highlights of the St. Junipero Serra Route

  • Process the Blessed Sacrament across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
  • Cross the Sacramento River by boat with the Blessed Sacrament
  • Carry Jesus across the largest mountain range in North America
  • Celebrate Mass at Benedictine College in Kansas
  • Stop in St. Louis for Mass and adoration

St. Junipero Serra, pray for us!”

The Southern Route: St. Juan Diego Route

The St. Juan Diego Route starts in Brownsville, Texas, at the southernmost tip of the state. It then follows the Gulf of Mexico through southeastern states.

St. Juan Diego was visited by Our Lady of Guadalupe, who shared her message of how we must love Jesus in the Eucharist with him and all people. His devotion was evident every day as he rose before dawn and made a 15-mile pilgrimage to attend Mass so he could partake in the Eucharist.

Highlights of the St. Juan Diego Route

  • Mass in Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Visit the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Northern Alabama
  • Mass at St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in North America
  • Travel through Louisville, Ky.

St. Juan Diego, pray for us!”

From the North: Marian Route

The Diocese of La Crosse is participating in the Marian Route pilgrimage, which begins at the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, Minn. The pilgrimage will continue through Wisconsin and Illinois before reaching the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. Although the Marian Route is the shortest NEP route, it is replete with opportunities to encounter Christ—through adoration, Spanish Masses, eucharistic miracle engagements, mission displays, celebrations of holy men and women on the path to sainthood, eucharistic rallies and more.

The route is named after the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion, formerly known as Our Lady of Good Help. A central stop along the Marian route, it is the first and only approved Marian Apparition site in the United States.

Mary traveled with Christ as He was growing in her womb and accompanied Him as He traveled teaching and bringing disciples to God. The pilgrims will follow her example as they journey with Jesus from May to July.

Highlights of the Marian Route

  • Pentecost Mass at Lake Itasca Park
  • Process the Blessed Sacrament across the Mississippi River in La Crosse
  • “The ANSWER” National Eucharistic Rally in La Crosse
  • Visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion near Green Bay
  • Masses in rural towns of Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • Stop in Milwaukee
  • Process the Blessed Sacrament through the University of Notre Dame

Mother of the Incarnation, pray for us!”

Story by Mary Kay McPartlin
Published in the May/June 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine

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