The goal of evangelization is to bring Jesus Christ to the world – and who better to get the word out than our young people?
A YOUTH-LED PILGRIMAGE PROMOTING OCTOBER’S I AM EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS TOOK PLACE ON MAY 13. THE PILGRIMAGE BEGAN AT ST. EDWARD THE CONFESSOR CATHOLIC CHURCH IN DANA POINT AND CONCLUDED AT ST. TIMOTHY CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LAGUNA NIGUEL. PHOTOS BY KAYLEE TOOLE/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
To answer the call of the US Bishops, who declared a three-year Eucharistic Revival in America that began in June 2022, the Diocese of Orange will host the I AM Eucharistic Congress at Christ Cathedral on Oct. 21.
In the months leading up to this great Revival, the Diocese’s Youth Ministry will hold several Eucharistic Pilgrimages to promote the event, build anticipation and bring awareness to its mission.
IN THE MONTHS LEADING UP TO OCTOBER’S EUCHARISTIC REVIVAL, THE DIOCESE’S YOUTH
MINISTRY WILL HOLD SEVERAL EUCHARISTIC PILGRIMAGES TO PROMOTE THE EVENT.
The first pilgrimage took place on May 13.
The 4-mile journey began at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point, proceeded to Mission Basilica Catholic Church in San Juan Capistrano and concluded at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Laguna Niguel.
Sam Kofoed, a sophomore at JSerra Catholic High School, who was recently confirmed, served as the cross bearer during the pilgrimage from St. Edward’s. He was joined by his parents.
The procession included an entourage of other young people, parents, church volunteers and Jesus Christ, as present in the Eucharist, which was carried in the monstrance.
Along the way, they sang, prayed and recited the Rosary in English and Spanish.
And at each church, another group of youngsters and adult volunteers took over and proceeded onto the next leg of the pilgrimage.
“It was really life changing,” Kofoed said. “It was really enjoyable to do.”
As is customary, the Eucharist was protected beneath a processional canopy, held up on all four corners by poles carried by young parishioners.
“I loved it, just walking side by side with Jesus,” said St. Edward the Confessor parishioner Miguel Tiscareno, 18, who held a pole on one corner of the canopy. “It was a beautiful experience.”
Tiscareno also serves as a musician during Sunday Mass.
“I’m trying to grow my spiritual life more,” he said.
Adult volunteers wearing orange safety vests accompanied the procession and vehicles carrying first aid supplies followed.
Between the youngsters and adult volunteers, about 50 people took part in the day’s event.
The pilgrimage was organized by Laura Schuberg, coordinator of the Youth Ministry at the Diocese of Orange.
“As is the goal with all our ministries, our aim is to bring Christ to the world,” Schuberg said. “If we are going to have true Eucharistic Revival, we need to engage in a particular mission where we go beyond the doors of the Church and what group in the Church is more equipped to do something new, adventurous and exhausting? This is a project designed for our young people.”
But beyond serving the youth, Schuberg hopes the pilgrimage serves those who may have left the Church, stopped attending Mass or are doubting God’s presence.
“If Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, what could be more powerful than Him passing right by them?” Schuberg inquired.
Indeed, as the pilgrimage moved along sidewalks, some passing motorists honked horns, pedestrians knelt and made the sign of the cross and one individual even joined the procession.
“It’s beautiful,” said Veronica Kofoed, Sam’s mother. “It’s community. It’s being with the Eucharist and Jesus and you could feel His presence.”
When Mason Fredenberg, a youth minister at Edward the Confessor, was first made aware of the pilgrimage through an email, he didn’t hesitate to organize a group of kids to participate.
“I was in immediately,” Fredenberg said. “The Eucharist is the center point of our faith. To have the opportunity for our team to literally walk with Christ through the streets of our community is an opportunity we shouldn’t pass up.”
Going over the details for the second leg of the procession with the group at Mission Basilica, Schuberg reminded the participants about the sacred symbolism behind the pilgrimage.
“This is a spiritual pilgrimage meant to mirror our whole lives,” Schuberg said. “You are on a journey at every moment. You are on an ultimate journey towards Heaven and when we do a walking pilgrimage, it is symbolic of what that feels like for us, journeying together towards heaven, helping each other out, walking with each other.”
For Deacon Mike Stock who serves at St. Edward the Confessor, one of the more spirit-lifting parts of the pilgrimage was when the procession made its way through a park, away from the bustling sounds of the streets.
“It was really wonderful,” the deacon said. “It was like we were on a walk with Jesus, with the kids, with the high school students and the adults. “It was a great experience. Everyone loved it.”