National Eucharistic Pilgrimage — Archdiocese on route of national pilgrimage 

This screen capture shows an interactive map that displays the Juan Diego Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, which will pass through the Archdiocese of Louisville July 4 to 9. The map is available at

The weekend of Pentecost — May 17-19 — four sets of Catholic pilgrims will begin walking in procession from four points in the United States to converge at Indianapolis on July 16.

The young adults taking part in the U.S. bishops’ National Eucharistic Pilgrimage will walk hundreds of miles while carrying the Blessed Sacrament along their routes — the Marian Route (starting in the North), the Seton Route (starting in the East), the Serra Route (starting in the West) and the Juan Diego Route (starting in the South).

The Juan Diego Route will begin in Brownsville, Texas, and is slated to make its way through the Archdiocese of Louisville, including the Holy Land of Kentucky, July 4-9. 

“We’ll be near the end of their journey; they will be tired,” said Dr. Karen Shadle, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Worship who is helping to plan the pilgrimage. “But they will have a lot of stories to share.”

The six perpetual pilgrims passing through Kentucky will also begin their journey not knowing where they will sleep each night, Shadle noted. “They’re relying on, putting their trust in the people of the south.”

Joining in

As the pilgrims make their way from site to site in the archdiocese, Catholics are encouraged to join them for short legs of the route each day and to provide a warm welcome.

“When they enter our territory, we need to take care of them,” said Shadle, noting that the pilgrims will need simple meals and accommodations.

Catholic families and individuals, religious communities and parishes in the archdiocese are being asked to provide meals and consider hosting the pilgrims.

In addition to the six pilgrims, housing is also needed for about three other people providing support along the route, including clergy and seminarians. 

Hosts would be asked to provide simple overnight accommodations for two pilgrims age 19 to 29 and have Safe Environment Training (a two-hour program provided frequently at various locations around the archdiocese).

Hosts are needed throughout the Holy Land of Kentucky and in Louisville.

The route

Their route in the archdiocese will begin on July 4 at St. Catherine Church in New Haven, Ky. They’ll attend Mass and then walk about 4.5 miles in procession with the Eucharist to the Abbey of Gethsemani, where they’ll join the Trappists for prayer. 

The pilgrims are expected to visit 13 parishes, four religious communities and Catholic Charities Center in downtown Louisville over six days. 

They’ll depart Louisville on July 9 via the Big Four Bridge. On the Indiana side, a prayer service is planned with Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre and Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson, formerly a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville. The service will send the pilgrims off to their final destination, Indianapolis, where tens of thousands of Catholics will be gathering to take part in the National Eucharistic Congress.

Tim Tomes, archivist

The sites

The pilgrims will spend the majority of their time here, in the Holy Land, visiting the archdiocese’s earliest foundations and learning about the spread of Catholicism in the U.S. 

On their second day here, they’ll process with the Eucharist from Gethsemani to Holy Cross Church in Holy Cross, Ky., the first Catholic Church west of the Allegheny Mountains.   

They’ll visit historic parishes in Marion, Nelson and Washington counties. And they’ll visit the Sisters of Loretto and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth — the first congregations of women religious in the region — and the Dominican Sisters of Peace, the first Dominican foundation of women in the United States.

“The Kentucky Holy Land is one of the most important areas for the spread of Catholicism westward in the U.S.,” said Tim Tomes, the archivist for the archdiocese who helped plan the route.

“It was important for this group to experience the Kentucky Holy Land and this history,” he said. “We tried to make the route as northerly as possible and to include as many sites as possible.”

Tomes noted that the precursor to the archdiocese, the Diocese of Bardstown, originally covered a large swath of the midwest, an area that now encompasses 46 dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

“The pilgrim group will pass through that original territory,” he said.

For more information or to volunteer as a host, call Shadle at 636-0296 or email her at More information about the pilgrims and their route is available at

Marnie McAllister
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Marnie McAllister
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