Pilgrimage Updates

“Nothing will be impossible for God!”

Several months ago, when I noticed that the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage would be visiting my family’s territorial parish, Light of the World, in Littleton—a suburb southeast of Denver, CO—I reached out to the Pilgrimage team and offered to host the pilgrims, seminarians, sisters, and chaplains for dinner.

We were honored to have the Perpetual Pilgrims and Archbishop Samuel Aquila join us this past Friday, June 7th, which providentially ended up being the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We set up a makeshift chapel to receive Jesus in the Eucharist and then, following a pilgrim’s dinner, set off in a Eucharistic procession from our house to Light of the World.

Joining us were around 150 people, mostly young families (the “stroller brigade”, you could call it), 2.4 miles down the bike path to the parish, where Archbishop Aquila had gone ahead to receive the Blessed Sacrament.

Tim Glemkowski with his wife and children at a Eucharistic Pilgrimage event
Tim Glemkowski with wife and children at a Eucharistic procession in Littleton, CO

A Moment of Conversion

It is difficult for me to explain how much of an impact this personal experience of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage made on me. This was among the most moving, meaningful, and joy-filled experiences of my thirty-five years as a Catholic.

We sang and said Rosaries, and kids ran up and down the procession picking grass, laughing, and praying. When we arrived at Light of the World, we were greeted by Archbishop Aquila, who received the Blessed Sacrament, and we followed him into the parish, where we were shocked to see around 1,000 people waiting to greet Our Lord!

This moment will be one that I will be pondering for a long time. Sweaty, dirty, and a little exhausted, those of us who processed with Our Lord were greeted by the joyful sounds of 1,000 people singing praise to God. Faces in the pews were covered in looks of expectant joy as we and, more importantly, the Blessed Sacrament, arrived. It was a moment I will never forget. Perhaps this is what heaven will feel like someday.

For me, this was a moment not just of excitement or enthusiasm, but conversion. The experience of receiving Jesus into my own home and then walking with him to my parish was one that induced in me a profound longing for eternity and a reminder of how I fall short of the ideal of the Christian life. There was a palpable grace and joy and a desire for more that still lingers now, days later.

A Display of Childlike Faith

Brothers and sisters, this Eucharistic Pilgrimage is changing lives. I am not alone in my experience. We hear stories every day of how the Pilgrimage is impacting people nationwide. Healings. Dramatic conversions. Answered prayers. But, most importantly, people just simply being drawn closer to Jesus.

The same day the Pilgrims came to my parish, I heard from multiple close friends who work up at Annunciation Heights, the Archdiocese of Denver’s youth camp adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park. The pilgrim group had called ahead to say they planned on making an impromptu stop at Chapel on the Rock at the former Camp St. Malo, famous for hosting Pope St. John Paul II when he visited for World Youth Day in 1993.

Eucharistic Pilgrimage processing to Chapel on the Rock in Colorado with mountains in the background
Eucharistic Pilgrimage processing to Chapel on the Rock in Colorado

When the middle school-aged campers heard that “Jesus was coming,” they all began sprinting toward their camp vans, wanting to go see him. The camp director texted me that it was something you would have only expected to see, “in the Holy Land, 2,000 years ago.” The CFR chaplain who carried Our Lord in the monstrance into the chapel, surrounded by the childlike faith of these middle school campers, remarked at dinner that it was one of the most profound moments of his entire priesthood.

These moments have been especially profound for me because I know how close this Pilgrimage was to not even happening. Technically, it was not possible to do.

An Impossible Plan

As the Eucharistic Revival was in its planning year, Bishop Cozzens and the Eucharistic Revival executive team had surfaced an idea for a nationwide Eucharistic Pilgrimage, including processions with Jesus that would go to the margins. Patrick Kelly, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, had the added inspiration of a four-route procession. With much to figure out still, this inspiration was given to some groups to plan the logistics. They came back with a singular conclusion.

“This is not possible. It can’t be done.”

All planning for such an initiative ceased. It can’t be done was the common thinking.

Later that year, at the first gathering/retreat of the National Eucharistic Preachers, it would be Fr. Roger Landry [now Catholic Chaplain to Columbia University and currently serving as the full-time chaplain for the Seton Route] and Fr. John Anthony, CFR, who would resurface the idea to Bishop Cozzens, convicted that God wanted this to happen. Fr. John Anthony, one of the leaders of these evangelization-oriented, gray-robed Franciscans, had an inspiration similar to Patrick Kelly: a four-route procession, forming a Cross over the country. A moment of not just witness but also intercession, praying for revival.

Fr. John Anthony’s words to Bishop Cozzens should go down in history. Without these words, this Pilgrimage would not be happening.

“Bishop,” he said. “I promise you, if the U.S. bishops decide to do this, they will have a gray robe with Jesus in the Eucharist every step of the way.”

Nothing Is Impossible for God

As I began my role at the National Eucharistic Congress, Bishop Cozzens, convicted of the call to launch a Eucharistic Pilgrimage, asked me to figure out how this could be done. I began researching and stumbled onto the website of a group called “Modern Catholic Pilgrim” which specialized in—I could not believe it!—walking pilgrimages over great distances.

I called their executive director, Will Peterson, late in June 2022 as I was driving with my family in the mountains of Colorado on a weekend getaway. After some introductions, I laid out the basic idea, four routes of walking processions across the country.

This past Friday, as I walked in procession down my neighborhood bike path as part of one of four Pilgrimage routes across the country during the first National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, I was brought back to how I ended the conversation with Will.

“I know that this is technically impossible,” I said, “But, what I need from you is a plan. Let’s pretend for a second it can be done. How would you do it?”

What you are witnessing take place across our great nation is what Will came back with. Brothers and sisters, this National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is changing lives, and it is technically impossible. Only the Catholic Church, aided by the grace of God, could even attempt something like this.

What I experienced Friday night, I will never forget. It was so… real. So different. So authentic. So profound. Life-changing. A foretaste of what Real Presence will be in heaven.

And it is only happening because of the deep conviction and belief among a small group of bishops, priests, sisters, and lay people, that “nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).

That, my friends, is how we experience Revival.

This blog post was written, in profound personal and professional gratitude to Joel Stepanek; Will Peterson; Fr. John Anthony, CFR; Sister Mary Scholastica, OCD; Deacon Frank Reilly; Fr. Craig Vasek; Peter Sonski; Maria Benes; and Chenele Shaw.