The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage Begins!

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s began on Pentecost Sunday, May 19th. Pilgrims passed by the Golden Gate Bridge, the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and the tomb of Blessed Michael McGivney. They even braved the 90-degree Texas heat! Just days before, perpetual pilgrim Matthew Heidenrich spoke to the Morning Air team.

A mathematics student at the University of Alabama, Matthew’s summer off will glorify God step by step. “My jaw hit the floor,” he recounted, when he read about the pilgrimage. When he applied to be a perpetual pilgrim, he felt profound peace. That peace has only grown as the pilgrims have undergone preparation. “I get to walk with the Eucharistic Lord every day!”

“A huge theme of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is contemplating the Road to Emmaus,” he shared with John Morales and Glen Lewerenz. “I have been praying that this would be an Emmaus moment for so many people, that the Lord will walk with us and open our hearts to Him.”

Matthew encourages everyone to walk, whether you’re Catholic or curious! “I hope that [people in the cities] will see Someone they don’t recognize. Maybe the Lord is Someone they have never encountered before, but then are curious and walk with us. Then that will open them to that encounter with the Lord. I’m excited to see how He brings all the pieces together along our routes.”

The road presents opportunities for a “good balance” between quiet worship and social connection. “There’s an ability to adore and listen to what Christ has to say to us up by the front of the procession. We also want to leave room for the Holy Spirit to inspire people to ask questions and have conversations!”

A day on the route begins with Mass, followed by a mile-long solemn procession “with everything you can imagine” (in Matthew’s words). The Eucharist will be briefly reposed during a longer procession between five and 12 miles. Parish events take place in the evening, and pilgrims go to their new host families for the night. “It’s pretty rinse and repeat,” Matthew joked.

Even in the daily walk, Matthew finds awe in the Lord’s plans for each day. “I can’t fathom what the Lord is going to do for our country and for my own heart! My life is about to be changed, because there’s no way you can spend that amount of time with Jesus – any time with Jesus! – and not have your life be changed. Today is the precipice, knowing that I’m about to jump deep into what the Lord has for me.”

Pray for the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage as they embark on a historic spiritual journey. Registration is available on-site at many of the events on the four routes. You can check out the schedule here.

Hear the full segment of Morning Air here.