As the strains of the harp quieted and the crowd of about 150 prepared to begin their journey, Kailene Figueroa reflected on the importance of receiving the Eucharist every Sunday.

“It’s an amazing experience,” said Figueroa, a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Irvine who is active in the parish’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

“It’s calming, and it gives me peace.”

Figueroa then made her way into the line of young and older Catholics outside St. Elizabeth Ann Seton as the crowd began to slowly process under a late-afternoon sun a mile to UC Irvine, the final stop on the first-ever Irvine Eucharistic Pilgrimage.

The two-day walk over the weekend of Sept. 22-23 was held to raise awareness of the “I AM” Diocesan Eucharist Congress at Christ Cathedral on Oct. 20-21.

That free event, open to all, is part of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival campaign declared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. That campaign culminates with the National Eucharistic Congress from July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Irvine pilgrimage followed similar pilgrimages held earlier this year at six churches in south and north Orange County.

The point of the pilgrimages is “to take our love for the Lord Jesus, present in the Eucharist, out into the world he redeemed,” said Deacon Bernie Ocampo of St. Thomas More parish, one of the four Irvine churches, in addition to Anteater Catholic at UCI, that sponsored the Sept. 22–23 walks, in addition to the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

A total of about 700 people participated, exceeding expectations for the inaugural procession across 10 miles of Irvine, Ocampo said. On Saturday morning, the pilgrimage began at St. Thomas More and ended at Our Lady of Peace Korean Center.

On early Sunday afternoon, it began at St. John Neumann, stopped by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and culminated at UCI just past the pedestrian bridge over Campus Drive at University Town Center.

Father Michael Fitzpatrick, parochial Vicar at St. John Neumann, walked the leg from his parish to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

“On the one hand,” he said, “we have people who are already faith filled who believe in the Eucharist, and this type of event really helps them. At the same time, the second purpose of the pilgrimage is to be present and visible for people who don’t really understand what the Eucharist is – to get them curious and questioning it. That is important as well.”

Some walkers held up banners.

On the last leg of the pilgrimage, one banner read: “How sweet is the presence of Jesus to the longing soul! It is instant peace and balm to every wound.” – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

From OC Catholic