Commission on Women plans pilgrimage to Spain, Portugal

By: By Jennifer Willems

Get out your passport.

Members of the Bishop’s Commission on Women in the Church and in Society are charting a new course and they’re inviting people around the Diocese of Peoria to come with them. Among the journeys on the horizon is a “Pilgrimage to the Shrines and Saints of Spain and Portugal” next April.

Journeys closer to home are also being planned, including a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows and the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago on Sept. 15. In addition, the commission is looking at a morning of reflection during Advent that will allow participants to explore journaling as a way of exploring their hearts and relationship with Jesus.

The new focus on journeys near and far grew out of the election of Pope Francis and a meeting last fall with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, according to Deena Pavinato of Oglesby, chairperson, and Father David Whiteside, spiritual director.

“Let’s journey together” was one of the things Pope Francis said early in his papacy, Father Whiteside said. He would see that expression everywhere in Rome while leading a pilgrimage soon after the pope’s election on March 13, 2013.

“When I became chaplain of this commission, the first thing we were planning was a conference on pilgrimage. That had already been determined,” Father Whiteside said.

The women who attended the annual day of recollection said they wished they could have more time to talk to each other and suggested mornings of reflection rather than one major conference every a year. Pavinato said they started to brainstorm ways to build on that interest.

When commission members met with Bishop Jenky, he said it was important to him that women be encouraged in their prayer lives because that was a way of strengthening families, too, she explained. In turn, stronger families build stronger parishes.

“We plant the seeds and it grows from there,” Pavinato said.

“Last February, the Lord had put it on my heart — I really believe it — that the commission’s focus should shift as a primary ministry and apostolate to pilgrimages and carrying on with that theme of journey of faith, pilgrimage in life,” Father Whiteside said. “So instead of just talking about journey, let’s go on one and experience a transformation of our faith.”

Working with Tekton Ministries, Father Whiteside arranged for the pilgrimage to Spain and Portugal to depart from Chicago on Saturday, April 18, 2015, and return on Monday, April 27. Since it goes over two weekends, it should make it easier for people to participate, he said.

The main focus of the trip is Fatima, but along the way the group will focus on St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and Carmelite spirituality in Segovia and Avila, and the Apostle James at Santiago de Compostela. It is a popular destination for pilgrims, who often walk or ride for miles to reach the basilica.

After two days in Fatima — one a tour day and one a retreat day — the group will rest at Cascais on the Atlantic coast before returning home.

The cost for the pilgrimage is $3,090, which includes everything but airline taxes and lunches. The trip is limited to 45 people and 14 registrations had already been received by mid-July, according to Father Whiteside.

For more information or a brochure, call Tekton Ministries at (317) 574-4191 or send email to For a registration form, go to and be sure to note that you are registering for the “Shrines and Saints of Spain and Portugal.”

Details are still being worked out for the September pilgrimage to Chicago. The Catholic Post will publish more information as it becomes available or visit the commission’s website.

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