From October 21st through the 31st, 21 men and women joined the USA Northeast Province for a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage through Portugal, home of St. Anthony of Padua and Jesuits like St. Joseph of Anchieta, Blessed Miguel de Carvalho and the missionary St. John de Britto.
Among the pilgrims were James Skurka, provincial assistant for advancement and communications for the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces, and Fr. Rodolfo Casals, SJ, vocation promoter for the Maryland and USA Northeast Jesuit Provinces.
“Our pilgrimage to Portugal offered many moments of peace and prayer that strengthened all of us as we continue our pilgrimage on Earth,” said Skurka, who served as the pilgrimage coordinator for the group.
“While on the road, we spent all of our days together sharing stories and experiences,” said Fr. Casals, who led the group in spiritual direction. “By the time we left Portugal, we were a community that had drawn closer to Christ, and to one another.”
The highlight of the pilgrimage was the visit to the city of Fatima, where the shrine of the same name is located. These 21 pilgrims joined others from around the world to visit the spot where the Virgin Mary appeared to nine-year-old Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
“They each gave themselves generously and courageously to a mystery, with no guarantees,” said Fr. Casals of the young Catholics who encountered Mary. “So too, the Fatima pilgrims in 2019 ventured out into an experience of mystery and hardship. We traveled to Fatima, because whatever God had to say to us, had to be said in Fatima, had to be heard in the context of a group of fellow travelers.”