Middle and high school students walked today from The Grotto in Northeast Portland to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Northwest during the 2014 Archdiocesan Pilgrimage Walk. The 6.2-mile walk gives youths an opportunity to experience spirituality and physical places of sacred space, and to meet other young Catholics from around the Archdiocese of Portland.
Sisters Yakciri and Areli Flores, parishioners at St. Joseph Church in Salem, said they came to walk in support of the Lord.
“It was nice to see so many people supporting him,” Yakciri said, who wanted people to know that Jesus will be there whenever you need him. Hearing the support from people honking and cheering as the pilgrims walked by was heartening, Areli said.
This year, organizers created a Pilgrimage Walk App for smartphones, which included the walking route, safety tips, and hashtag information. Twitter was filled with a storm of photos from the walk, all with the hashtag #ArchWalk.
As the crowd, all in red T-shirts, crossed the Burnside Bridge from East to West Portland, rain started pouring down. Pilgrims stopped at St. Andre Bessette Parish in Downtown Portland to donate warm clothes and socks, which will be distributed to people living on the streets.
The final destination was the Cathedral, where Archbishop Alexander Sample celebrated Mass.
Emcees Kelsie Whaley and Father Benjamin Tapia congratulated and encouraged the pilgrims as they arrived at the Cathedral.
“It’s awesome to see your smiling faces,” Whaley called out to tired, but cheerful pilgrims as they poured onto the Cathedral School playground, ready for snacks and drinks. “You’re a great witness to Christ’s love”
Father Tapia is parochial vicar at St. Edward Parish in North Plains and St. Alexander Parish in Cornelius. Between the two parishes, 36 people came for the walk.
“One of the things I enjoy the most about the priesthood is the work with the youth,” Father Tapia said. “Plus, it’s a great place to promote vocations.”
Whaley is a youth minister at Shepherd of the Valley Parish in Central Point.
“At most events, the archbishop comes to us,” she said. “This time, we went to him.”
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