Bishop to lead diocesan pilgrimage
in support of the Eucharistic Revival

Bishop Barry C. Knestout kneels in prayer during a pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. in 2019. (Photo/The Catholic Virginian)

Bishop Barry C. Knestout is asking members of the diocese to consider setting aside busy schedules and daily concerns for one day this fall – and join him in focusing on the Lord.

“God invites us to take a weekly day of rest and worship. It is also important to look for occasions when we can put aside some additional time to strengthen our relationship with God,” said Bishop Knestout.

The bishop will lead a diocesan pilgrimage Saturday, Oct. 21, to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The pilgrimage is focused on the Eucharist as part of the ongoing, nationwide Eucharistic Revival.

“I hope this focus on the Eucharist will draw us a little closer to Christ and strengthen our faith so we can better deal with our day-to-day responsibilities or struggles,” said the bishop.

The one-day excursion will include Mass, eucharistic procession, adoration, confession, talks and tours. Resources will also be offered in multiple languages.

“One of the things the basilica does really well is show multiple ways you can approach our faith,” said Andrew Waring, director of the diocesan Office for Evangelization (OFE), which is organizing the pilgrimage.

“This pilgrimage is a way for the diocese to be united in the Eucharist while still celebrating the multitude of ways we worship,” he added.

“There is something very beautiful about making an intentional pilgrimage to encounter Christ with the goal of bringing us closer to the Eucharist,” said Dan Harms, OFE’s associate director for marriage, family, and life.

Bishop Knestout wanted a chance for the diocese to gather for some form of spiritual renewal. He thought more families could take part if the pilgrimage lasted one day and did not require traveling long distances.

So far, approximately 600 people have registered. OFE has arranged for buses to depart from locations across the diocese. Approximately 700 seats are available on those buses with no option to secure additional buses. Pilgrims can arrange transportation as a parish or travel individually. OFE asks everyone to register on its website regardless of their mode of transportation. There is no cost to register.

Our Lady of Nazareth (OLN), Roanoke, has one of the larger contingents registered so far, with approximately 40 people. Ellen Vanden Eykel, the director of adult formation, said OLN has been promoting the pilgrimage throughout the summer through posters, email newsletters, bulletins, and by word of mouth.

Vanden Eykel said they have also been promoting the pilgrimage in conjunction with other parish events that center catechesis on the Eucharist.

“The pilgrimage stands out as a special event that brings Catholics from all over Virginia together to worship, learn, and grow in love for Jesus, all centered around the source and summit of our faith,” she explained.

“My hope is that the pilgrimage unites us to the larger body of Christ … and sparks renewed excitement about the Eucharist and our faith!” Vanden Eykel added.

Staff members at St. Joseph, Martinsville, said they have been advertising in bulletins, posters, and ministry group chats. They are even volunteering to help people fill out OFE’s online form. The parish also has about 40 people signed up, many from the Hispanic community.

“Our hope is that the people who attend will … have a better understanding of the importance of the Eucharist, and hopefully also build more reverence,” St. Joseph staff members told The Catholic Virginian.

Bishop Knestout said he looks forward to returning to the basilica where he was first ordained a priest. He said he is most looking forward to the eucharistic procession and celebrating Mass with the people of the diocese.

He reassures those who feel as if they do not have the luxury of taking an entire day away from their daily responsibilities.

“I have always found that even if I do a spiritual act, like this, without an ideal disposition – even if there are many other worries or responsibilities on my mind – God always offers some fruit, some benefit, to us for the sacrifice we make to set aside some time for him,” the bishop said.


Editor’s note: Register to join the bishop on the diocesan pilgrimage at the Office for Evangelization’s website.

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