Pilgrims believe that freedom reigns in Eucharistic Lord

MICHIGAN CITY – As the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage continued through the Diocese of Gary, it passed through Michigan City, bringing over 600 faithful to Queen of All Saints parish on July 4.  On this special day commemorating our country's birth, those gathered celebrated the true freedom found in Jesus.

“We walk with Jesus and ask him to sanctify this city as we journey and find the true freedom we have in Christ,” said Father David Kime, pastor of Queen of All Saints. Father Kime described the three-year national revival as a rebirth and renewed Eucharistic devotion.  

“This is a spark that will inflame the faith of Catholics in the United States toward our blessed Lord in the Eucharist, not just today, but this whole three-year process of understanding the profound and amazing gift that we have of Jesus truly present in the Eucharist,” said Father Kime.

“Even if we’re out at the grocery store, what if our heart was still at Mass, still here with the Eucharist,” Father Kime continued. “Our world would be very different.”

The message of freedom rang loudly as others shared reflections as well.

In his homily, Father Zachary Glick, associate pastor of Queen of All Saints and chaplain candidate for the U.S. Air Force Reserve, conveyed that a nation’s success is dependent on the actions of its people and, as is evident from the Bible, how closely they follow the commands of God. 

“Our country was founded on the principles of life, freedom, and justice, but, ultimately, these principles depend on God,” stated Father Glick. “He is the one who can give true freedom. He alone is perfectly just.”

Living a Christian life involves freeing ourselves from the tyranny of Satan and sin and giving ourselves completely over to Jesus, becoming more and more his disciples, according to Father Glick.  “That is how we attain true freedom, true liberty and true justice in life. …This is an opportunity to be bolstered, fortified, encouraged, and built up in our Eucharistic faith and to place our life in the hands of Christ’s presence.”

The routes of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, which began in mid-May from four different locations, cross our country with the intention of converging at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. Among those traveling, bringing Jesus from parish to parish, are perpetual pilgrims – young adult Catholics making the full pilgrimage journey – and giving testimony. Eight have accompanied the Blessed Sacrament for the Marian Route that has passed through the Diocese of Gary.

“It might seem ironic or like a paradox that we, as Catholics, find complete freedom in complete surrender to Jesus in the Eucharist,” said Perpetual Pilgrim Danielle Schmitz of Santa Clara, Calif. “Throughout these weeks of pilgrimage, I have had zero control over my life. …And I have never experienced more freedom for it. Because in that surrender, Jesus and the Eucharist are providing everything for me.”  

Schmitz invites all those joining the pilgrimage to contemplate this type of complete freedom in surrendering completely.  “Ask the Lord to reveal in your heart where you need to surrender to him. What parts of your heart do you feel that there is no freedom in?” Schmitz said, adding that the faithful can ask for Our Lady’s intercession, too, to be able to give a complete and whole “Yes!” to the Eucharistic Lord.

Fellow perpetual pilgrim Blase Gebe, seminarian of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, described the journey as a “joyful whirlwind” in meeting, walking and praying with so many throughout the pilgrimage.

“Every day, the Lord renews us to keep going,” Gebe said.  “For me, the grace the Lord has imparted to me is a deepening desire to put Him first and foremost and order everything else to Him.”

One of Gebe’s favorite reflections has been on Martha and Mary from the Gospel of Luke. He mentioned that people, himself included, can be so busy, always acting like “Marthas,” always doing stuff, but this time in praying these processions has shown him the one thing that matters. “Like Jesus said, ‘Only one thing matters.’ That is spending time with Jesus,” Gebe explained. 

Those gathered at Queen of All Saints joined together for Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. They participated in the Eucharistic procession around parish grounds, singing hymns and serving as a public display of faith.  They recited the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet and had the opportunity for reconciliation that morning.

“It’s beautiful to see every seat in this church full with standing room only,” said parishioner Monica Zibutis, who attended with her three boys.  “It’s just beautiful that everyone is here to adore God.” 

Sister Mary Amata – one of the sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, who processed with the Blessed Sacrament at QAS and later to Franciscan Health, Michigan City – talked of the beauty in Eucharistic faith, too.

“It’s beautiful that Jesus wants to be everywhere with us,” she said, “in our neighborhoods, our churches, our hospitals, and in our hearts.”

In the days leading up to the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration who serve at the hospital shared information with staff through email and conversation-based “Sis Talks” with the hope that in educating on the Eucharist and Sacred Heart of Jesus and Christ’s love, they might be encouraged to join the day’s events, which included a holy hour with praise and worship, personal reflections and reciting of the Divine Praises Litany led by the sisters.

“Having the Eucharistic Pilgrimage pass through the Diocese [of Gary] in which we serve is so exciting in and of itself,” said Sister M. Petra, vice president of mission integration for Franciscan Health Michigan City. “But for it to actually stop at one of our sites, it’s so beautiful because it ties our healthcare ministry to our charism in perpetual adoration.”

Sister Petra explained that the fruits of their adoration become visible in their active works. “We bring Christ, whom we encounter in perpetual adoration, to those we minister to, whether it be our patients or our employees, and to every single person we encounter,” said Sister Petra. “So, to have Him come in procession here is so exciting.” 

The Eucharistic procession, which was led by Father Bill O’Toole, hospital chaplain, entered the main entrance of the building from Frontage Road, the access road that is visible from US 421.


Caption: A visible display of faith is seen as a Eucharistic procession leads a group of pilgrims to Franciscan Health Michigan City along Frontage Road on July 4. (Angela Hughes photo)