Certainly, it is one of the most unique experiences of holy Church that faithful, young & old, will ever have.
Every autumn since 1996, pilgrims walk in the footsteps of the Martyrs of New France — who were both Native Americans of Huronia and French Jesuit priests and laymen — from the Lake of the Blessed Sacrament [aka “Lake George”] near and along paths the saints followed as captives in the summer of 1642 to the site of their martyrdom, called then “Ossernenon”, present-day Auriesville, along the Mohawk River.
The martyrs were forced, as slaves to the Iroquois, to traverse hundreds on miles in 28 days in August of 1642.
Pilgrims today walk at the end of every September in groups of 30-45 pilgrims that we call “brigades”, accompanied by a chaplain.
So, you see already: Nobody makes pilgrimage alone.
Holy Mass in the traditional Roman form is prayed – chanted by our own pilgrim-choir – every day in much solemnity. Along The Way, there is much singing and reciting of prayers, confessing of sins, teaching and private counseling by priests of solid faith, and lots of blessed, rip-roaring fellowship.
Many of the pilgrims walk all three days, approx. 60 miles — almost all of them also resting intermittently in vans that shadow the main column of walking pilgrims. So, a pilgrim only need walk as much or as far as he can.
There is penance aplenty, and joy is effusive for the duration.
Many seniors and families with young children make pilgrimage in a ‘modified’ way, spending the days mostly in campsites, joining the column on the road in the morning and the evening for a short interval. In the camps, they pray, confess, their children learn the catechism, their chaplains give spiritual talks and private counsel.
The pilgrims’ choir, St. Cecilia’s Brigade, prays the divine office with their chaplain throughout the day in the camps.
Pilgrim-organizers take care of many of the material and all the liturgical needs of the pilgrims, so pilgrims can concentrate on prayer, penance, and fellowship. Organizers prepare for holy Mass and the sacraments, organize and guide the brigades, provide pilgrims minor first-aid, supply all the water the pilgrims need each day, transport weary pilgrims, haul everyone’s baggage from camp to camp, supplement the pilgrim’s personal brown-bag meals with hardy soups, fresh bread, and sometimes jam & fruits. And much more.
Watch this video to see for yourself.