In October of 2021, I had the opportunity to observe and be a part of the annual Three Hearts Pilgrimage to Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma...
The pilgrimage is a 2 Day 35 Mile sacrificial walk in defense of the traditional family and the sanctity of life. More than 1,000 pilgrims from 35 states across the country attended the event. I was able to join the pilgrims on the 2nd day at their campsite, where I observed 100's of pilgrims attending adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the field of a local farm under the glow of a full moon. These pilgrims had just finished the first leg of their 35 mile journey, yet with their aches and pains, and no doubt many blisters, they found their way to an altar on a hill, with the moon in the back ground, they adored our Lord before retiring to their tents.
Despite their arduous journey, it was striking how joyful these man and women were... it was clear that they were joyful in their suffering. These mothers and fathers along with their children and many other young men and women, were partaking in a centuries old Catholic tradition of making a pilgrimage. Catholic culture was what built Western Culture, and despite what others may claim, it was inspiring to see that it's not dead in America.
A group of young boys, and their fathers were the inspiration for this beautiful event. The students of the Saint John Bosco Institute (SJBI) decided that rather than sitting around and complaining about the attacks on the traditional family and the sanctity of life, they would get up and actually do something about it. In 2019 they started a small and humble pilgrimage to a small and humble abbey in the hills of Eastern Oklahoma. This was a sacrificial walk that has now turned into more than 1000 Catholics from across the country who partook in the pilgrimage. We need more fathers to take inspiration in this, men across the country need to take heed that as we fulfill our role properly ordained by God, we can lead not only ourselves, but others in our country to be inspired to do something beautiful for God. As we have recently seen with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we must never give up. As St. Theresa of Calcutta never tired of saying, “unless we see the face of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we won't be able to see the humanity of the child in the womb.” No doubt many of these pilgrims were praying for the sanctity of life that night at benediction and it's likely no small coincidence that Roe v. Wade was overturned on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. It is my hope that families will continue to take part in pilgrimages such as this, and that we will all once again begin to rediscover the richness of our Catholic witness for the family and for human life. Bishop James Conley Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska
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