By Fr. Guillermo Trevino
I was invited by the Diocese of Davenport’s Multicultural Ministry coordinator to help lead a pilgrimage with Father Joseph Sia on July 7 to The Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John, Ind.
I have a strong devotion to the Stations of the Cross, so it was easy to say yes to going. As a kid, my home parish offered Stations of the Cross services every Friday during Lent. In my first assignment at St. Alphonsus and St. Mary parishes in Davenport and St. Peter Parish in Buffalo, parishioners also did Stations of the Cross. In my two trips to the Holy Land, I have been on the Via Dolorosa, the road that follows the actual Stations of the Cross.
Our pilgrimage from Davenport to St. John left at 6 a.m. with three buses carrying pilgrims from the diocese’s Multicultural Ministry team. I gave each busload of people a blessing before we left. I was told that the people on the buses prayed the rosary on the road. We arrived at the shrine around 10 a.m. I found it to be immediately inspiring. A huge statue of the Virgin Mary, called Our Lady of the New Millennium, stands 33 feet tall at the shrine. We took a group photo there.
Our first stop was a replica of Mount Sinai featuring Moses and the Ten Commandments. It was beautiful to see this nod to the Old Testament. We proceeded to the Shrine of Christ’s Passion, which starts with The Last Supper. Pilgrims could sit at the table with the Lord; they seemed very touched. Then we walked the traditional Stations of the Cross, one station at a time on a scenic trail.
For our group, it was beautiful to pray the stations in Spanish. Pilgrims stayed and reflected after each station. The walk was about a half-mile. I was moved to see people from the different parishes taking turns to lead the stations as the rest of pilgrims followed with the cross.
At the end of the stations, everyone was in awe at what had happened. We had lunch and then ended our pilgrimage with Mass. Fr. Sia presided at Mass wearing a beautiful Our Lady of Guadalupe chasuble. I preached and focused on the word “exasperate.” I did not know its meaning and wanted to get to the definition as the reading instructed listeners to not exasperate one’s children. Infuriate is a good synonym. I challenged the group that this was an amazing, beautiful experience. However, we have to be good examples for our children. We can’t expect them to be willing to do something that we wouldn’t do. Since all of the pilgrims on this pilgrimage were leaders in parishes, their attitude and behavior make a difference not just to the children but to the whole parish.
It was an amazing trip that touched everyone. St. John, Ind., is only a three-hour drive from Davenport and one hour from Chicago. The Shrine of Christ’s Passion is a must see for one’s faith and development.
(Fr. Guillermo Trevino serves at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City and St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty.)