One Pilgrim’s Journey

by Susan Grilliot

14368773_10157640991855082_2117620263764002384_nThe Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) has become an increasingly popular pilgrimage walk in Europe. Last winter, I made the decision to quit my job and take this adventure. Alone. At first, I was open to going with someone else if anyone happened to be able to take a month off work or also quit their job at the same time. However, after some time planning and praying, I felt called to go it alone.

The Camino is one of those experiences that are difficult to describe, and every pilgrim’s description is different. That is the beauty of it. No two Caminos are alike. Different motives, different backgrounds, even different routes. That being said, my good friend, Paul (we met on The Way), has walked three times now, and he says, “Where else in the world can you find such a variety of people in the same place with the same goal?” I think this fact contributes to making The Way a “river of human kindness” as Paul says.

Making friends is easy, and if you are not comfortable making the first move, someone else will. If you are sitting alone, someone is bound to ask if he or she can join you. I loved this aspect of The Camino. I did not have to worry about the reaction, only whether or not we had a language in common! Pilgrims in general are so willing to help each other. Molly needs something for her blister. Bob, across the room offers her a band-aid. Claire has a strange sickness she cannot beat. Arnau, a doctor, writes a prescription for the correct medication. Susan gets sick, so Karl and Florian take turns carrying her pack so that she can still travel with the group. Yes, I am talking about myself here.

The first couple of weeks were filled with such joy and beauty. Between the warm, sunny weather, the picturesque landscape and new friends, I felt such genuine happiness. A German man, Florian, who I met the first day, would play his ukulele and we would sing songs as we walked. We were always laughing or smiling about something!

14642259_10157591176730082_2609657771707717621_nCarrying twenty or so pounds on your back takes time to adjust to. Never mind walking inclines and declines on uneven surface. Blisters, sores, bed bugs, injury and illness- All may be a part of the experience whether personally or through fellow pilgrims. Though these topics are widely discussed, they hardly brought us down for long before we would be caught up again in the beautiful scenery or in hunting down the next yellow arrow that indicated the way.

The trail passes almost every single Catholic Church within a few kilometers. Unfortunately, not all were open at the time I walked by or were turned into museums and charged an entrance fee. Despite the lack of European religiosity, I could not get over how old everything in Europe is, especially the churches-most dating back to the 1200-1300’s. I found one of my favorite churches after a wonderful day of hiking up a mountain. It was located in the small, cold, and touristic town of O Cebreiro. While looking up mass times, I discovered that a Eucharistic miracle happened there in the 1300’s! There was a side alter with the remains on display for veneration. So cool!

I intentionally made the journey spiritual. Each day I prayed for someone specific or a group of people. I prayed a rosary and offered the days sufferings in his or her name. It seemed to help me focus and stay on track when it was so easy to obsess over how close the next meal or bathroom was. It was also very easy to let the other pilgrims distract me as I suffer highly from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

I was quick to find a Camino family, and so never walked an entire day alone.  I enjoyed meeting many unique people to share stories and experiences with. I now have friends in Australia, France, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Maine, California, and beyond!

untitled-2I gained so much confidence in myself and my abilities. I learned more about who I am. There is something very special and powerful about sharing your true self, that is, the you beneath the makeup, fancy clothes, or photo filter. I also grew in trust of God and His plan for me. Numerous times, God put the right people in my path at the right time. For example, one night while cutting cheese with a pocketknife, it slipped. Luckily, Jules, who is a nurse, was with us that day so she was able to get the bleeding under control and properly sterilize and bandage the deep wound.

Though I do not plan to walk this again for a long time, many pilgrims find themselves on the trail multiple times in his or her life. As for me, I would like to explore the countless other countries I have yet to see!


Susan, originally from Ohio, made it to this great state by attending Ball State University and is currently one of the members of the St. Catherine of Alexandria Women’s Formation House here in Indy.

Why it is a good thing to be tempted…

by Fr. Martin Rodriguez

Fr. Martin did a reflection for young adults on how temptations can help us prove our love to God!

martinFr. Martin, one of our young adult priests in the archdiocese, is currently the pastor at St. Joseph’s in Shelbyville, IN. He recently started a YouTube channel where he shares short videos explaining different parts of our Catholic faith. You can subscribe to his channel HERE. Many are in Spanish, but he is starting to publish videos in English as well! Gracias Padre!

Our Vocation to Marriage – Reflections from World Youth Day

by Stephen Janssen and Kara Gregg    

When we met in May of 2015, I (Kara) was reading “Saint John Paul the Great, His Five Loves” by Jason Evert. A book about the life and loves of St. JPII. I (Stephen) soon read the same book and it changed my life and my entire belief on the human body, love, and marriage as a Catholic man and future husband. Throughout our relationship, JPII and our blessed Mother have been strong intercessors for us.

I (Kara) had spent several years before I met Stephen praying for my future husband.  During the time in the summer of 2015, shortly after meeting Stephen, I received a special gift on the last day of a 54 day rosary novena I decided to pray for the intention of my future husband. On my trip to Rome with my cousin, we were invited to attend a private mass, in which after the priest placed a zucchetto (a cleric’s skullcap: black for a priest, purple for a bishop, red for a cardinal, and white for the pope) of JPII on my head and before he did I asked that he would also pray for my future husband. JP2 has been so tenderly involved in our relationship!

During our pilgrimage to World Youth Day we ended a 54 day rosary novena for the intention for a happy and holy marriage. On that day, we visited the shrine of JPII in Kraków and kissed a relic of his blood that was saved on May 13, 1981, the day there was an assassination attempt on his life and the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. What a blessing! We knew Our Lady of Fatima was so special to us and we to her. She has guided us and given us so many graces throughout our relationship. Through the sufferings we have endured and offered for each other and for our future marriage, JPII and Our Lady have interceded for us and given us the grace to receive the fullness of this life with each other.12 [Read more…]

The Gift of Our Priests – Reflections from World Youth Day

by Maria Cossell

Like my fellow pilgrims that traveled to Krakow for World Youth Day, I journeyed with specific intentions in mind.  My prayer and hope was to see fruits for these particular intentions by offering up sufferings.  Little did I know what prayer intention the Lord would actually place on my heart while I was in Poland.

One day Fr. Eric Augenstein graciously took a small group of young adults on a tour of sites that pertained specifically to the life of St. John Paul II.  As we stood outside St. John Paul II’s home parish, St. Stanislaus Kostka, Fr. Eric  recounted how the church was run by a group of Salesians.  All of the priests except one who was in his eighties were sent to concentration camps by the Nazis.  Eleven priests who served this church died for their faith.  They freely chose to love and follow Jesus till their last breath.  

All of a sudden I was overcome by a sense of sadness and anxiety.  At first I struggled to understand why I was feeling this way.  For five years I have taught sixth graders about World War II.  Each year I talk about how priests were killed.  I talk to my students about the truth of underground churches currently in our world.  Fr. Eric’s story should have come to no surprise for me.  However, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Without priests we, the Church cannot come into union with Christ in the very intimate way of the Eucharist.  I never want to live in a time period where it is a struggle to be able to receive the heart of our Lord in communion.  

It was then I realized how I take for granted the gift of the priesthood and the presence of Jesus in the holy sacrament of the altar. On any day of the week I have a plethora of churches and mass times to choose from.  I can pop into an adoration chapel any time I feel like it, no matter the hour of the day.

[Read more…]

When Thousands Don’t Satisfy the Heart

by Erica Heinekamp

Untitled-4It’s in the soul of a mother raising her young children.  A young man at the office sitting at his desk everyday.  The question is there in the midst of the studies of a seminarian or grad student.  It’s in the hearts of teachers who are living summer break. It’s with the 250 young adults at Theology on Tap last week and the 8 with me at Mass this morning. It’s a question for the despairing AND the hopeful alike: “What am I looking for?”

Be careful that the answer isn’t too automatic.  We’re not answering “What are you looking for?” like a computer answering “What’s 2 X 2?”

Attention, everyone:  What you’re looking for is JESUS!!!!  There. I answered it. Do you feel better? Of course not. The problem is we’re still hurting, confused, and in some way, feel like we aren’t honoring such a meaningful, personally-diverse question with such a simple response.

I was at a regional meeting of leaders a few years ago for a Catholic lay movement called Communion and Liberation.  The question was posed to us, “What does your community need?” It was their version of “What are you looking for?” We broke out into groups, discussed it with others and came back with our responses: We needed money, more cultural presentations, better discussions at our weekly meetings, new people.  We said all the right things!

The priest in charge, Fr. Jose, in the midst of our responses, said, I can see the future of the communities you lead by what you ask for. You are asking for things too small.”  I’m not sure if on the outside I erupted, but on the inside I sure did.  Asking for things TOO SMALL?!? What in the heck was I supposed to be asking for? (Let’s be honest, I probably didn’t say “heck.”) [Read more…]