NDA Students Participate in Walk to Mary

Vit Nosek, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

More than 1,000 Catholics participated in Saturday’s 21-mile Walk to Mary. It started at 7 a.m. with a prayer service and send-off blessing at the National Shrine of St. Joseph at St. Norbert College in De Pere and ended at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion.

The pilgrimage reminds all participants of a long-standing tradition, started even before establishment of the Catholic Church. It is based on the story when Abraham was walking in the desert to Mount Moriah.

The whole march takes about 10 hours, including a short break for lunch. For families and elderly, who can not make 21 miles, there are three options: a middle distance of 12 miles, 7 miles as well as 2 miles for the youngest kids.

Its unique location attracts many people from multiple states because it is the only place in the United States with an approved Marian apparition. In 1859 the Virgin Mary appeared to Adele Brise, who started the mission school in Champion. Hence, this pilgrimage supports Catholic education for the young.

According to organizers of the Walk to Mary, everyone has his own purpose for completing the pilgrimage.  “We walk because life is a journey of discovery and revelation, not a destination,” they say.

The 21-mile route was divided into five parts, representing the five decades of the rosary: the Shrine of St. Joseph at St. Norbert College, St. Peter and Paul Parish in Green Bay, Holy Cross Parish in Green Bay, the intersection of Van Lanen and County Line Road and finally the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion.

A few students from Notre Dame, including Sydney Ditscheit, took part in the pilgrimage.  

Ditscheit enjoyed the atmosphere and overall experience. She explained her decision to get involved, “A group of friends invited me to do the Walk to Mary with them. I was convinced to go because I thought it sounded like a great way to strengthen my devotion to Mother Mary.”

It was also a great opportunity to meet old friends from all over the country, due to its popularity. Sydney emphasized the whole mission of the march.

“It was an extraordinary experience because I got the chance to catch up with many people, who all share my faith and a common goal.”