The first pilgrimage was accomplished by the founders of the project when they walked 75 miles in 4 days from Lexington, KY to the Abbey of Gethsemani, the Trappist monastery famous as Thomas Merton’s residence. The pilgrimage was supported by Religion News Service (RNS) under the title “Modern Millennial Pilgrimage.” Two nights were spent with hosts from Catholic parishes and one night was spent in an interfaith homeless shelter before arriving at the Abbey. The time at the Abbey included a recorded interview with a monk who had Merton as his novice master and spiritual director. That interview can be found on the "Holy Sites" and "Resources" pages. Links below are to the Press Release produced by RNS and to the blog hosted by RNS detailing the experiences of the founders on their journey.

The Press Release for the First Pilgrimage

Excerpts below:

“In this age of inhospitality, Will Peterson and David Cable and their host families are modeling important values of kindness, welcome and hospitality,” said Thomas Gallagher, RNF’s CEO.  “Who better than Thomas Merton to model life-giving dialogue with those of one’s own faith tradition, and importantly, with those of other faith traditions and none at all,” said Gallagher.


“Combining attention to the ancient practices of pilgrimage and hospitality, this is a wonderful and timely project,” said Christine Pohl, associate provost for faculty development and a professor of church in society at Wilmore, Kentucky-based Asbury Theological Seminary, and a leading expert on Christian hospitality.


Pohl’s colleague at Asbury, James R. Thobaben, dean of the school of theology and formation and a professor of bioethics and social ethics, agrees. “I am convinced that bodily engagement in spiritual disciplines (pilgrimage, fasting, kneeling in prayer, and so on) is — or, at least, can be — a facilitator of our receptivity to grace,” said Thobaben.


The First Pilgrimage's Blog - Read all about the actual experience of pilgrimage in the Holy Land of Kentucky by going to the blog hosted by the Religion News Service.


As a project developed by lay Catholics, Modern Catholic Pilgrim works to allow people to experience pilgrimage and hospitality in the Catholic tradition here in the United States. It is a Catholic 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in San Diego, CA.

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