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Has it ever occurred to you that becoming a pilgrim can be as simple as stepping outside the front door? We at Modern Catholic Pilgrim (MCP) give people the opportunity to dive into pilgrimage right where they are through our 500 Pilgrims for Mary project this May.

500 Pilgrims for Mary is MCP’s 2021 iteration of its annual Pilgrims for Mary project to give people the support they need to experience the rich tradition of walked pilgrimage in the Catholic faith without having to devote weeks and thousands of miles of travel to becoming a pilgrim. Each year, we invite any and all to walk for Mary during her month of May. Pilgrimages can be made to the local parish or cathedral, to a shrine, or even into one’s backyard. As long as prayers and intentions are being brought to Mary at the destination, it is a pilgrim experience, regardless of distance or time.

When we walk for Mary, we also walk with her since she, too, was a pilgrim. Luke tells us in his Gospel, “Each year his [Jesus’] parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover” (Luke 2:41). We pray as Mary prayed in her own time, which allows us to deepen our sense of faith and spiritual understanding. Further, she knows all that is on our hearts, and we can bring her those prayers and intentions right in our own communities.

Last year, 349 pilgrims walked in 80+ cities, 34 states, and 6 countries, developing community around the world while enjoying an awakening of the spiritual life through an ever-ancient and ever-new practice of prayer.  We are excited to expand the reach of the project this year to provide more people the opportunity to take part individually or in groups to walk for the Mother of God in her month of May.

Sign up on our website, listing where you will be walking for Mary. We provide easy-to-follow directions for your self-led pilgrimage in a digital companion guide and a pilgrimage booklet that gets sent to your home. Step out your front door and become a pilgrim. It is that easy to have a prayerful experience you will never forget.

About the Author

Will F. Peterson experienced firsthand radical Catholic hospitality on trips to Iowa and North Dakota during college during which he recognized that American Catholicism contains a multitude of people willing to open their doors to travelers.  A pilgrimage to Rome for Pope Francis’s first Easter while an undergraduate stirred the first thoughts of a pilgrimage ministry as he felt the immense power of a physical journey of faith shared with others. In teaching for two years in an under-resourced Catholic high school in Memphis, TN, he saw the limiting effects of not having the opportunity to come into contact with people who may have shared beliefs, but different views and experiences of life. After two years as a middle school English teacher at St. Therese Academy in San Diego, he now works full-time with MCP. He has been a speaker at Catholic and pilgrimage-related conferences, a writer for academic, diocesan, and lay publications, and a guest of various Catholic media outlets.

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