Mission Statement and Rationale
The Modern Catholic Pilgrim project aims to provide an increased opportunity for prepared pilgrimage in the Catholic tradition throughout the United States to people, especially young adults, seeking person-to-person hospitality through a network of hosts willing to provide for those on the Way.
 We capitalize “Way” to connote its meaning as a spiritual journey beyond that of the physical one.
We at Modern Catholic Pilgrim (MCP) recognize that the world is far different today than it was in the time of Jesus, but we take Henri Nouwen’s words to heart. He wrote, “If there is any concept worth restoring to its original depth and evocative potential, it is the concept of hospitality. It is one of the richest biblical terms that can deepen and broaden our insight in our relationships to our fellow human beings.” Thus, we examined the world around us and determined that it is in travel to holy sites, pilgrimage, that people could possibly open their hearts to the reinvention of a biblical hospitality.
Further, the congruence of travel to a holy site and boarding with host families honors the travel of the early Christians while also keeping with general trends in contemporary travel. Indeed, one needs only to look to the traditional pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago and see how the popularity of pilgrimage has increased. When the number of pilgrims was officially counted for the first time thirty years ago, there were 2,491 pilgrims. Ten years ago, just over 100,000 people did the necessary steps to be considered a pilgrim on the Camino. Ten years later, that number had jumped to almost 280,000. Travelers under 30 made up over 25% of that number, or more than 70,000.
The desire for pilgrimage is evident, and one need only look at the popularity of an organization like CouchSurfing to see that people are both willing to open their homes to strangers and willing to stay with strangers. 400,000 people serve as hosts in the organization’s network, and they serve over 4,000,000 travelers every year.
If there is such interest in pilgrimage and such interest in hospitality, then why not bring them together here in the United States?
To hear a detailed description of the project and its aims, listen to the recording below of Will Peterson's presentation at the College of William and Mary where the Institute for Pilgrimage Studies hosted its annual Pilgrimage Symposium. (It takes him a bit to set up before the presentation begins at about the 15 second mark. He also walks around a bit, so the volume is not equalized throughout.)
Our vision is that a person could walk outside their home and set off on a pilgrimage to any Catholic holy site in the United States and stay with hosts each night of the journey.
WHAT WE DO
We work to prepare pilgrims, get them to holy sites in the United States, and expand a hospitality network to care for those pilgrims as they journey.
We have an ever increasing number of parishes and Catholic Campus Ministries joining our Hospitality Network as well as an ever increasing number of pilgrims out on the road.