Catholics to gather for pilgrimage to Washington

October 17, 1998|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

More than 1,800 Roman Catholics from the Archdiocese of Baltimore will assemble today in a biennial pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

The pilgrims represent Catholics in approximately 55 parishes in the archdiocese from as far as Westernport in Allegany County. They will join Cardinal William H. Keeler, archbishop of the archdiocese, for a day of spiritual activities that will include the recitation of the rosary, confession and the celebration of Mass.

"Every two years we've had this pilgrimage," Keeler said. "It's a sign of the spiritual devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus."

Keeler added that the pilgrimage has significance to the Archdiocese of Baltimore "because the decision to declare Mary as our [national] patron under the title of the Immaculate Conception was made in Baltimore at the 6th Provincial Council in 1846. So we have a particular tie to the title and the church."

Keeler noted that many dioceses in the country conduct periodic pilgrimages.

"It's a wonderful, collective way of coming together for a time of prayer in our largest Catholic church in the United States," he said.

The Rev. Ronald P. Pytel, the pastor of Holy Rosary Church in upper Fells Point who is coordinating the pilgrimage, said people will board buses in their parishes and converge on the national shrine about 11: 30 a.m. The pilgrimage, Pytel said, is among the most ancient and honored spiritual traditions.

"The desert fathers went out to the desert to get away from day-to-day life. Jesus took time away from the crowds," he said. "It's an opportunity to take time away from everyday activity, go to someplace sacred and spend some time in spiritual rejuvenation."

Pub Date: 10/17/98

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