Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? Maybe a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Lourdes, or Rome is on your bucket list. Or maybe when you hear pilgrimage you just think of the Mayflower and turkeys. Father Rocky, Executive Director/CEO of Relevant Radio®, recently stopped by The Cale Clarke Show to discuss what a pilgrimage is, why they are so powerful, and why the upcoming Walk to Mary is one you don’t want to miss.
Explaining why people go on pilgrimages, Fr. Rocky said, “There is a long-standing tradition in the Catholic Church, and even before the Catholic Church, that believers in God go on walking pilgrimages to a holy place. This was the case with Abraham in the desert finally going to Mount Moriah. And that was the case of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph every year walking from Nazareth down to the Temple in Jerusalem.”
Many pilgrimages involve traveling to a place where the Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared. Millions of people have traveled to Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal, and Mexico City in Mexico to honor the sites of Marian apparitions. But did you know that there is an approved Marian apparition right here in the United States?
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is a Marian shrine, located in Champion, Wisconsin, within the Diocese of Green Bay. It stands on the site of the reported Marian apparition to a Belgian-born woman, Sister Adele Brise, in the year 1859. The Walk to Mary is a 21-mile walking pilgrimage to this Shrine, and an opportunity to honor Mary, do penance, and ask her to take your intentions to her Son, Jesus.
There are four starting points for the Walk to Mary, so even if you can’t do the entire 21 miles, you can still participate. Father Rocky noted, “It’s very well-organized. There’s water along the way, there are porta-potties, there’s food, there’s safety, and all that. So the first year a couple hundred people came out. The next year 300-400 people came. But the last couple years 2,000 people have come out.”
But why is the Walk to Mary such a powerful pilgrimage? It is not only an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord and meet fellow Catholics. But the history of this pilgrimage shows that prayers are answered and lives are changed through the Walk to Mary.
Father Rocky shared, “People come with an intention. I saw a young woman there a couple of years ago who had a little newborn baby in a carriage. I had met her the year before, and she had shared that she had five miscarriages. Can you imagine how devastating that is? Five miscarriages. But she did the 21-mile walk with the intention that she would be blessed to have a baby. And a year later she was there with a baby. So everyone has got their own plans there.”
Offering another example, Father Rocky recalled, “This other couple I met there two years ago, a mom and a dad and a 12-year-old boy just smiling. I didn’t know them but they wanted to talk to me. They said, ‘Don’t you remember us?’ And they said, ‘We called into the show, our marriage was on the rocks, and you said we needed to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help and we needed to do the Walk to Mary. We came, we did the Walk, and it saved our marriage.’ So it’s very powerful.”