Pilgrimage to National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception set for Sept. 16

WHEELING — The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will have a diocesan pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on Sept. 16, gathering Catholics of West Virginia as one in prayer with the Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the diocese, as well as the priests, deacons, men and women religious and seminarians.

Dedicated to Holy Mary, Mother of Unity, the pilgrimage will gather all to pray to the Lord to bring unity, healing and hope to the nation and the world, the diocese said.

“Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception has such great potential to really bring peace and unity to all of us followers of Christ,” said the Rev. David Galvin, permanent deacon at St. James Parish in Charles Town, W.Va., and coordinator of the pilgrimage.

“Certainly during a time of tension here, in our country and throughout the world, the ability of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to come together from all different areas of the state, from different nationalities, from different walks of life to unite in prayer for the needs of our own families, for the needs of our diocese and for the needs of our world is really a fantastic opportunity,” Galvin said.

The diocese is hopeful, Galvin said, to have representatives from every parish, religious community and organization from within the diocese attending the diocesan pilgrimage.

“It’s been a tradition in our diocese to have pilgrimages to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.,” said Bernadette Kime, director of the diocesan Office of Worship and Sacraments, who is also helping to plan the pilgrimage. “It is especially great for our diocese because Bishop Bransfield spent 25 years as rector there. … We know that there is so much divisiveness in our country and in our world. So, we want to come together as a diocese and to pray through the intercession of Mary for healing and hope, and that people come together. We are going to celebrate our unity.”

The pilgrimage will feature presentations on different topics throughout the day as well as a gathering to pray the rosary, a children’s choir, a choral program and more.

“We’re going to have a children’s choir helping to lead us in the rosary at the start of the day in the Crypt Church (at the basilica),” Galvin said. There are also plans, he continued, for music, the rosary and the Universal Prayer during Mass to be in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Italian and German.

The day will culminate with the celebration of the pilgrimage Mass by the bishop with priests of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston concelebrating. The pilgrimage choir will sing during the Mass, and anyone in the diocese is invited to be a member of the choir.

Bus transportation to the pilgrimage will be available from various regions of the diocese. More information about the pilgrimage choir will be announced in the coming months. Children interested in being part of the children’s choir should contact Gary Penkala, pastoral associate at St. James Parish.

For more information about the pilgrimage, contact St. James Parish at 304-725-5558 or visit the diocese’s website at dwc.org.