National pilgrimage launches with 1,000 following the Eucharist across the Golden Gate Bridge

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NEC24 PILGRIMAGE SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone leads a procession with the monstrance after celebrating Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco May 19, 2024. The Mass was celebrated for the western route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, during which pilgrims from across the United States will travel with the Eucharist for the next eight weeks on their way to the National Eucharistic Congress, scheduled for July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis. (OSV News photo/Bob Roller)

SAN FRANCISCO (OSV News) — Eight young adults embarked on the journey of a lifetime Pentecost Sunday, led by San Francisco’s archbishop holding Jesus in the Eucharist, traveling across the Golden Gate Bridge on the first leg of a more than 2,200-mile evangelizing pilgrimage across America to Indianapolis.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone set the tone for the pilgrims and all those who filled the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption for the Mass May 19 before they set out in procession. He called them in this public act of their faith to follow Jesus Christ in his “way of love,” recalling the witness of modern martyrs such as the Ulma family, killed by the Nazis for protecting Jewish people in Poland.

“If we are public about our faith, displaying it by righteous living,” Archbishop Cordileone said, “then others will perceive in us something different: a better way to live. And this is the most important meaning of the power of faith to change history. The power to change the history of individual lives, bringing them into the saving encounter with Jesus Christ and knowing his love, grace, truth and freedom.”

Serra Route launches in San Francisco

Two Franciscan Friars of the Renewal priests, two seminarians from the San Francisco Archdiocese and six young adults from around the U.S. make up the Eucharistic caravan that is traveling the western route named for the Franciscan friar and Apostle of California, St. Junipero Serra.

Patrick Fayad, 22, a perpetual pilgrim and recent Benedictine College graduate who works at a boys’ classical education school in Southern Kansas, said he was “absolutely excited” to bring Christ to others and “growing in love of Christ” in the days ahead.

“I don’t think I will be the same after walking with Christ for two months,” he told OSV News.

The Mass at San Francisco’s cathedral that sent forth the Serra Route pilgrims was celebrated with settings specially commissioned by Archbishop Cordileone and composed by Frank La Rocca via the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship. La Rocca’s “Missa Pange Lingua: A Mass For Eucharistic Renaissance” was sung by a 16-voice schola conducted by Alfred Calabrese. The readings were in Spanish and English with the prayers of the faithful spoken in a multitude of languages.

Archbishop Cordileone’s message

Seven years ago, Archbishop Cordileone consecrated the archdiocese to the Immaculate Conception on the 100th anniversary of the appearance of the Blessed Mother to the three children at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.

He also used the occasion of the Pentecost Mass to call the faithful again to live that consecration.

“Above all, we give our best to God when we pray with pure hearts at the altar. When our lives are centered on God in this way, it is only then that we … (can completely) love others for their own sakes.”

Golden Gate bridge
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone elevates the monstrance as he blesses the city and pilgrims after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco May 19, 2024. The event began the western route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, during which pilgrims from across the United States will travel with the Eucharist for the next eight weeks on their way to the July 17-21 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. (OSV News photo/Bob Roller)

Procession across the Golden Gate Bridge

While the weekend had been overcast in California’s famously foggy city, Pentecost Sunday dawned mostly sunny and breezy. And so it was for the Eucharistic procession the archbishop led after the Mass — a thousand people following the Eucharistic Jesus along the eastern walkway of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 1.7 mile span observed by countless motorists driving by that day.

On the other side, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J Cordileone raised the monstrance and, surrounded by the faithful, blessed the city from a vista point looking toward it.

“It is a privilege to be part of an American Catholic historic event to bring the Eucharist to people across the country,” Sally Brien Holper, married mother of four, and parishioner of San Francisco’s St. Stephen Parish told OSV News.

“I have to be here,” added Shinta Sani, who came across another bridge, the Bay Bridge, to the pilgrimage kickoff from the town of Hayward, California. “God opens the way for us.”

Deeply personal journey

For the perpetual pilgrims, it is just the beginning of a deeply personal journey with Jesus — and an encounter they hope transforms lives beyond their own.

“I hope to just spread the fire of the Eucharistic Revival with people,” said Jack Krebs, who missed his graduation from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to start the pilgrimage along the Serra Route toward the July 17-21 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.

Jaella Mac Au, junior at University of Georgia, agreed.

“If just one person is shown the love of the Lord,” she said, “then it will all be worth it.”

Valerie Schmalz

Valerie Schmalz writes for OSV News from San Francisco.