A Pilgrimage to End The Year of Faith

During the Jubilee Year of 2000, I put together a pilgrimage for my school community. My friend Jo Kusek, the Director of Religious Formation at two local parishes, helped me write the reflections for each stop. I loved the opportunity to walk the grounds of our campus during this pilgrimage. So each year, during the last week of school, I take my 3rd graders on a pilgrimage around our school and parish campus. To end the Year of Faith, I would encourage you to put together a pilgrimage around your campus.

year-of-faith-logo-montageThe Year of Faith was announced by Pope Benedict XVI for October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013. We were given the charge to study and reflect on our faith during this year. Our school always chooses a theme for the year and it was “Give Us Faith, Lord” for the school year 2012-2013. Every classroom displayed the theme. Here is my classroom poster which visually reminded my students of the 7 Faith Habits we encouraged during the Year of Faith.

Give Us Faith, Lord.

Give Us Faith, Lord.

We also bought, for every school family, a fridge magnet to help our families with the 7 Habits of Faith to practice and add to their family life during this year.

7 Faith Habits

7 Faith Habits

Why do people make a pilgrimage? It’s a time honored practice where people take a journey to a holy place, to worship God, to fulfill a promise or ask of prayers. Many times the pilgrim is inspired and transformed. It’s also a time set aside to notice our surroundings and to thank God for the blessings he has given to us.

To begin, you will want to pick 7 or 8 stops around your school and parish campus. These stops may be Religious artwork of statutes, paintings or mosaics. Be sure not to overlook the doorways of your school and church. This is an important part of this pilgrimage for the Year of Faith. You will be symbolically opening the door of faith for your students.


We begin at the front door of our school.

We begin at the front door of our school.


If you have a school banner and/or a processional cross, this an excellent way to set aside this journey as holy. A reflection is read at each stop. A refrain from a song can be used in place of a reflection. Before you move to your next stop, the group will pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and a Glory Be. These short prayers are also used to help define your stops as special. At our school’s front door, we sang the refrain to the song “Holy Ground” by Christopher Beatty.

Our first stop was our prayer garden. Our school is named for St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. This prayer garden has a statue of St. Margaret Mary and this statue of Jesus with his Sacred Heart exposed. Jesus showed St. Margaret Mary his Sacred Heart.  At this stop we sang the refrain from a song about the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We pray our 3 prayers and move to our next stop.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Sacred Heart of Jesus


At this stop, my students really begin to take to heart the idea of noticing and pausing during a pilgrimage. This statue of Jesus and the Children is a very popular part of our campus. So many of my children recall climbing on it! But, when we stopped and really looked at the statue, they were noticing so many things! They noticed Jesus with the stigmata. They also noticed the tiny bandage on one of the children and the little girl holding her teddy bear.

Jesus and the Children Matthew 19:14

Jesus and the Children, Matthew 19:14

The reflection read at this stop reminded the children that Jesus  is with us during play time, work time, and study time. We also asked for help to remember those children who can not play or study because of war, poverty or illness.

Our next stop is the front door of our church. Here is another spot where the children pointed out many things they have never noticed before.

"Peace be to you!"

“Peace be to you!”

The beautiful stone relief above the doors really caught their eyes. The message of, “Peace be to you,”  was reinforced in the reflection that this greeting is for you and all who enter this church.

Next we walked in quietly into the church.

The darkened chruch

The darkened church

The partially lit church really sets a special tone every year for our pilgrimage. My students are so used to every light being on and the pews filled. We walk quietly to the front and sit in the pews. At this time, I answer questions from my students. They ask great questions. Many times after I answer a question, they will say, “I never knew that or I never noticed that!”  I always point out the Baptismal Font and we pray the Apostles Creed at this time.

I always make a point to stop at this beautiful Icon. I love ‘reading’ the Icon to them.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Our last two stops, outside of the church, are a statue of St. Francis and Mary.

I really encourage you to put together a Year of Faith Pilgrimage for your school community. I always feel that the time I took out of the day was well worth it. The shared experience of a pilgrimage is a great gift to your school. How did I know that this experience was worth it? When we walked back into school, a mosaic of Mary and the child Jesus, that they walk by many times a day, caused them all to stop and look. “Wow, I’ve never noticed this before!”

A mosaic in our hallway

A mosaic in our hallway.

For more resources on the Year of Faith, please check out the USCCB site.




  1. I love this idea — thank you for sharing!


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