Walk to Mary 2023

“If you want a house; if you want a spouse; if you want a baby; don’t say ‘maybe’! – come to the Walk to Mary on the first Saturday of May!!”  That’s just what I have been telling folks every night on the Family Rosary Across America and this year a record crowd of pilgrims showed up for the 10th Annual Walk to Mary on Saturday, May 6.  More than 5,000 happy and soaking wet pilgrims from more than forty states made the trek along the path from the National Shrine of St. Joseph in DePere, Wisconsin to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion twenty-one miles away.  Our Lady appeared to Sr. Adele Brise at that spot in 1859 and for the past 164 years miracles and graces have been happening there!

This was the tenth annual Walk to Mary, so expertly organized by Pat Deprey, Tom Schmit, Don Warden, Kim Desotell, and friends and allies from Green Bay, Wisconsin, but it was my 11th time participating.  Even though the Walk to Mary was canceled in May 2020 because of COVID, some fifty pilgrims made the trek on their own, and I biked it there and back with two friends that day, because I did not want to miss it.  This was my 9th time walking the entire trek, and this year was the easiest because of the cool temperatures and cloudy skies.  For two years I could not walk it because of funerals and weddings those days, but I managed to show up for the Mass at the end of the day.

I always look forward to carrying in my backpack the thousands of prayers and intentions submitted to us from our four million listeners around the country.  This year we printed them on both sides of the paper in 4 pt font and limited the cache to one hundred sheets.  Along the way, pilgrims handed me more intentions.  And it did not take long for an answer for Abigail from Milwaukee who wrote in on Monday:

Prayer of Thanksgiving. I submitted a prayer to the walk to Mary, as I could not attend. My prayer was that I would conceive. I found out I was pregnant the day after. Praying for a healthy baby and pregnancy.

“If you want a house; if you want a spouse; if you want a baby; don’t say ‘maybe’!

So what’s it look like “by the numbers”?

  • 5300 pilgrims from 43 states
  • 75,000 miles walked, or the equivalent of three times around the earth
  • 10,000 prayer requests.
  • 12,000 bottles of water
  • 300 lbs of turkey; 1200 hot dogs; 6400 slices of bread; 4000 bags of chips; 1000 pears; 1000 apples; 2000 bananas
  • Ten priests hearing confessions
  • 3,000,000 miles travelled round trip by 5300 pilgrims
  • 1000 for the Spaghetti dinner
  • 100 volunteers
  • 3000 Relevant Radio hats; 3000 Relevant Radio sunglasses
  • 5300 smiles; 4000 laughs; countless rosaries along the way; 5300 new friends made
  • 4 Masses at the Shrine
  • 1 blister

I hope to see you next year on May 4th, for the 11th Annual Walk to Mary!

Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, "Fr. Rocky" is the Executive Director/CEO of Relevant Radio and a priest of Opus Dei.