Torres: ‘Perpetual pilgrims’ are to be ‘a light to those we encounter’ on way to congress

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Jennifer Torres
Jennifer Torres, one of the "perpetual pilgrims" on the Marian Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, smiles as she poses for a photo May 31, 2024, during the pilgrimage's time in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minn. The northern Marian Route started May 17 in Bemidji, Minn., and will end in Indianapolis at the National Eucharistic Congress, being held July 17-21. (OSV News photo/Amber Walling, The Central Minnesota Catholic)

LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. (OSV News) — While taking a sabbatical rest year to discern where the Lord was calling her next, Jennifer Torres received a quarterly alumni email from “Christ in the City,” a group of missionaries she had served with in Denver, working with the city’s homeless to “bring love where there is no love.”

The email shared an opportunity to spend the summer as a pilgrim with the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.

Months later, she packed up, left her work as a barista at the Augustine Institute in Denver, and lived with her family in Fort Worth, Texas, for a few months before arriving in Minnesota in May to start her journey as a pilgrim.

Torres began her pilgrimage on the northern Marian Route, which began May 17 in Bemidji, Minnesota, at the Star of the North Conference and will end in Indianapolis at the National Eucharistic Congress. Besides the Marian Route, three other National Eucharistic Pilgrimage routes launched in other parts of the country (east, west and south) are in full swing. The four routes will converge on Indianapolis July 16 for the National Eucharistic Congress, which takes place July 17-21.

Jennifer Torres, a “perpetual pilgrim” on the Marian Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, prays at St. Marcus Church in Clear Lake, Minn., May 24, 2024, where the pilgrims ended their time in the Diocese of St. Cloud with a short closing ceremony. The northern Marian Route started May 17 in Bemidji, Minn., and will end in Indianapolis at the National Eucharistic Congress, being held July 17-21. (OSV News photo/Dianne Towalski, The Central Minnesota Catholic)

The Central Minnesota Catholic, the magazine of the St. Cloud, Diocese, met up with Torres May 23 at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church in Long Prairie, during the pilgrimage through the St. Cloud Diocese to learn more about her experience:

Central Minnesota Catholic: How did you become a perpetual pilgrim?

Torres: I discerned this through prayer. I’ve been in social work ministry for the past seven years and the common denominator I saw was my love for the Lord in the Eucharist. To have the opportunity to serve and to share that love for him, there is nothing else I would rather do.

The process for applying included two formal interviews and one informal interview in December and January. In the middle of February, we were flown to the Twin Cities to meet and to partake in a three-day retreat led by Bishop (Andrew H.) Cozzens (of Crookston). Every week thereafter, we had virtual meetings where we discussed different topics we would encounter including packing, media, the eucharist in the early church, hospitality and more.

Central Minnesota Catholic: Why are perpetual pilgrims an important part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage?

Torres: We are ambassadors of the Eucharist who are also called to share our testimony and be a light to those we encounter. During the pilgrimage, there are moments where we are asked to minister to, lead and guide the people we encounter.

In a practical way, having perpetual pilgrims helps with the logistics. We are servants to the parishes we visit and assist with many logistical items such as traffic control, serving food, acting as a resource for questions and providing support with hospitality.

Central Minnesota Catholic: How many perpetual pilgrims are journeying on the Marian Route?

Torres: There is a core team of six of us plus two seminarians. Along the route, we will also always have a priest chaplain and will likely be accompanied by another religious brother.

Central Minnesota Catholic: What is your Eucharistic love story?

Torres: I was raised Catholic but fell away from the church at the end of middle school. From there, I journeyed through a nondenominational Christian portion of my life. While I attended the University of Nebraska Lincoln, I got involved at the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center. One day, at the end of my freshman year of college, I felt a stirring in my heart to go to the Newman Center for the sacrament of reconciliation. That day, I went to confession for the first time in six years. When I walked out of the confessional, it was the first time in my life that I saw the Lord in a monstrance. I knew he was calling me to meet him there. I was so struck by his presence; I knew I could never leave him.

Central Minnesota Catholic: What are you most looking forward to at the Eucharistic Congress?

Torres: I look forward to seeing other pilgrims from the other three routes, seeing friends and family that will be arriving for the congress and rejoicing for the gift of this summer and all the things the Lord has done and will continue to do for our country.

Central Minnesota Catholic: Tell us about your time in the Diocese of St. Cloud.

Torres: It’s been such a joy. There is such warmth within all those we are meeting — youth, young adults, grandparents. All the pilgrims have been struck by the hunger for the Lord, and I am grateful to witness this. It’s beautiful here. I am very edified by meeting people as a pilgrim — coming to the Diocese of St. Cloud. It’s helping me to further grow my understanding of the church as a whole and how to best serve her.

I ask all the people of the Diocese of St. Cloud to continue to pray for all the pilgrims and all participants in the Eucharistic Pilgrimage and all those we encounter.

OSV News

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