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placeholder October 23, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA

Rev. Lawrence D'Anjou and the pilgrims walking part of the Camino de Santiago in Spain during the Marian shrines pilgrimage in October 2015.

A wax statue of St. Vincent de Paul can be seen inside the chapel of the Vincentian Fathers.in Paris.

St. Therese of Lisieux is buried in the town of Lisieux in Normandy, in northeastern France.

Pilgrimages have a magic all their own

I've recently had the great pleasure of participating in two pilgrimages sponsored through The Catholic Voice.

The first was in October 2015 to Fatima in Portugal, Santiago de Compostela in Spain and to Lourdes and Paris in France. The second was in February to the Holy Land.

Rev. Lawrence D'Anjou

Both of these were sponsored by Unitours and both were tremendously blessed experiences; not just for me but (at least from what I hear), for everyone who participated in them.

I look forward to another pilgrimage soon; this one to the Marian apparition site of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in February 2018.

The God who created and sustains all things seems to smile upon pilgrims. He sees the efforts we make to travel to these unique and blessed places. He knows the travail (the same root word for travel!) that we undertake to get there. And He rewards that effort with something extra-special. A grace that, in my experience, is something just short of heaven.

"I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "… plans to give you a future of hope."

Hope. Hope is what the captives who heard these words from the prophet Jeremiah received. As pilgrims whether we are conscious of it or not, we bring our hopes for heaven on our journey. And as we visit these holy places that hope blossoms and overflows. We experience this together — often with people we have just come to know.

This is what I would call the magic of the pilgrimage experience.

(Rev. Lawrence D'Anjou is pastor at St. Raymond Church, Dublin.)

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