Pilgrimages for Racial Justice and Reconciliation
“[I]f we walk and talk and work and play and stand together in Jesus’ name – we’ll be who we say we are – truly Catholic.”
- Sister Thea Bowman, Servant of God
Sister Thea Bowman's challenging, prophetic words to the U.S. Catholic Bishops in an address she gave in 1989 just months before she died of cancer shape our work at MCP in planning and hosting pilgrimages for racial justice and reconciliation alongside our partners in communities around the United States. Now, in collaboration with Sr. Thea's Cause for Canonization, our work coalesces into the national Walking Together project.
Through discernment, including time in prayer at her gravesite in Memphis, we have decided to coordinate all our future pilgrimages for racial justice and reconciliation under the Walking Together title. Our goal is threefold: to bring Sr. Thea's call for a "truly Catholic" solidarity to the forefront of each pilgrimage, to build community among pilgrims across the various pilgrimages that occur around the country, and to teach pilgrims about this great saint for our age while we seek her intercession each time we walk together as the beautiful, multi-cultural Church that Sister Thea knew us to be.
Three pilgrimages are currently scheduled for 2022:
Our third annual pilgrimage in Louisville, taking place September 23rd and 24th with the support of a grant from the National Black Catholic Congress, is now Walking Together: Louisville.
Our annual pilgrimage with Sr. Thea and St. Martin de Porres in Memphis, taking place November 5th, is now Walking Together: Memphis.
Our pilgrimage this May in collaboration with St. John's University's Campus Ministry that will bring students from their campus in Collegeville to the Twin Cities is Walking Together: SJU.
More pilgrimages are in the early planning stages. We look forward to supporting communities around the country in hosting their own Walking Together pilgrimages throughout 2022 and beyond.
We invite you to learn more about how pilgrimage can be a path forward for racial justice and reconciliation using the resources on this page, and we encourage you to keep informed about the above pilgrimages by signing up for email updates using the "Stay Informed" button below. Of course, feel free to email MCP President Will F. Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get involved with the project.
Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, pray for us.
Saint Martin de Porres, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Way, pray for us.
Will wrote an article for the Black Catholic Messenger in 2021 entitled "Modern Catholic Pilgrim hosting Black Catholic pilgrimages this fall (and why)" linked here
An MCP-created guide for self-led racial justice pilgrimages was published by the Grotto Network here
Pictures from Previous Pilgrimages
Prayer for Sr. Thea's Canonization
Ever loving God, who by your infinite goodness inflamed the heart of your servant and religious, Sister Thea Bowman with an ardent love for you and the People of God; a love expressed through her indomitable spirit, deep and abiding faith, dedicated teaching, exuberant singing, and unwavering witnessing of the joy of the Gospel.
Her prophetic witness continues to inspire us to share the Good News with those whom we encounter; most especially the poor, oppressed, and marginalized. May Sister Thea’s life and legacy compel us to walk together, to pray together, and to remain together as missionary disciples ushering in the new evangelization for the Church we love.
Gracious God imbue us with the grace and perseverance that you gave your servant, Sister Thea. For in turbulent times of racial injustice, she sought equity, peace, and reconciliation. In times of intolerance and ignorance, she brought wisdom, awareness, unity, and charity. In times of pain, sickness, and suffering, she taught us how to live fully until called home to the land of promise. If it be your Will, O God, glorify our beloved Sister Thea, by granting the favor I now request through her intercession (mention your request), so that all may know of her goodness and holiness and may imitate her love for You and Your Church. We ask this through Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.