Diocesan News

Pilgrims Trekking to National Eucharistic Congress Will Make Two Days of Stops Throughout Diocese of Brooklyn

Father Roger Landry carries the monstrance as a Eucharistic procession arrives at the harbor in Bridgeport, Conn., from New Haven, Conn., May 19, 2024. The procession was a part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. (Photo: OSV News/Paul Haring)

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN —Excitement is building in the Diocese of Brooklyn as the faithful await the arrival of those taking part in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, who will be stopping in Brooklyn on Sunday, May 26, enroute to Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress this summer.

The pilgrims, who started their journey in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 18, will be traveling to Indianapolis on foot. 

The National Eucharistic Congress is set to begin at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 17. 

The group is one of four groups that will be starting out from four different parts of the U.S. and traveling to Indianapolis for the July congress.

Each of four routes the pilgrims will be taking have been named in honor of the Blessed Mother and different saints, Marian, St. Junípero Serra, St. Juan Diego, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. 

The pilgrims stopping here in New York City — Dominic Carstens, Zoe Dongas, Marina Frattaroli, Natalie Garza, and Amayrani Higueldo — are walking the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route. 

Dongas, a parishioner of St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village who works in the Young Adult Outreach Office in the archdiocese, said she’s ready for the arduous journey. She prepared by taking long walks so that she can break in her new walking shoes.

“I’ve been walking to work instead of taking the train,” said Dongas, who lives in Queens and works in Midtown. “I’ve been getting groups of people together to take long walks in the city. A few weeks ago, we walked from St. Joseph’s in Greenwich Village to St. Joseph the Holy Family in Harlem. That’s a distance of about nine miles.”

However she said the main part of her preparation is not physical, but spiritual. “I am praying to the Lord for the grace I will need to complete the pilgrimage and for Him to be steadfast with me,” she explained. 

The Seton Route pilgrims will be making several stops in the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn, including a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to be celebrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan on the morning of May 26.

Vincent LeVien, director of external affairs for DeSales Media Group, the ministry that produces The Tablet, has been working for weeks with the NYPD and city agencies to make sure that the pilgrimage runs smoothly in the Big Apple.

“There are pilgrims walking to the National Eucharistic Congress from all corners of the country. But organizing a procession in New York City is a lot different than doing one in Omaha. There are a lot of moving parts — permits, traffic concerns — all kinds of things,” said LeVien, who is coordinating efforts for both the diocese and archdiocese.

The group’s visit to the archdiocese will also include a stop at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine in Lower Manhattan. They will then make their way to the Brooklyn Bridge carrying the monstrance.

Bishop Robert Brennan is expected to meet the pilgrims mid-span on the bridge and accept the monstrance on behalf of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

That handoff will mark the start of a two-day series of processions and celebrations that will include stops at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral and the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph on May 26.

Father Joseph Gibino, vicar for evangelization and catechesis for the diocese, said the faithful can join the procession along the route. 

“As we make our way through Brooklyn, we’re going to be stopping at parishes along the way. And the invitation will be that if one group of parishioners wants to drop off at that point and another wants to start, that will happen as smoothly as possible,” he explained.

The plans for the local leg of the pilgrimage were still being finalized at press time.

On May 27, the Seton Route pilgrims will start their day at a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St, James in downtown Brooklyn, then process to Mother Cabrini Park in Carroll Gardens for a prayer service.

There will also be stops at other churches in the diocese, including Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen in Carroll Gardens, Holy Family-St. Thomas Aquinas in Park Slope, St. Michael’s in Sunset Park, and Our Lady of Angels in Bay Ridge.

The idea, Father Gibino said, is for the faithful to feel like they are a part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, even if it’s only for a short part of it.  “The excitement that this will generate will be something special,” he added.

The local portion of the pilgrims’ journey will end at a Pier 5 in Brooklyn Heights, where the Seton Route pilgrims will board a boat to travel to the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey. Cardinal Dolan will be aboard the boat.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, chairman of the National Eucharistic Revival,
wished all of the perpetual pilgrims good luck on their journey, including those traveling to Indianapolis along the Seton Route. Pictured (left to right) are pilgrims Zoe Dongas, Natalie Garza, Dominic Carstens, Amayrani Higueldo, and Marina Frattaroli. (Photos: Courtesy of National Eucharistic Pilgrimage)

The boat will pause on the water near Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty for a special blessing. Although they won’t be able to board the diocesan boat, Father Gibino said parishioners who wish to witness the blessing can gather in Battery Park in lower Manhattan and take a ferry to Liberty Island.

As Dongas prepared or the pilgrimage, she put the Blessed Sacrament at the center of everything. 

“I think the proximity I will have to Jesus in the Eucharist for two months has to change me. Praising Him and Walking with him, I expect the Lord will continue to transform my heart. I hope He transforms the hearts of others,” she said.