23 parishes represented on PDCCW bus pilgrimage to St. Thérèse shrine Sept. 25
By Paul Thomas Moore
The Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (PDCCW) led a pilgrimage to the National Shrine and Museum of St. Thérèse of Lisieux in Darien on Sept. 25. Approximately 60 pilgrims (including several men) from 23 parishes across the diocese journeyed by bus from Peoria and Champaign.
Pilgrims sought the intercession of Thérèse, one of only four women doctors of the church, and her mother Zelie and father Louis Martin, the first married couple to be declared saints together. The pilgrimage coincided with a display of traveling reliquaries of all three saints at the shrine and museum.
April Adams, vice president and chair for leadership and evangelization for the PDCCW, said the prayers of the pilgrims had a special focus.
“We just really felt that this is something we could lead the women to . . . support (Bishop Tylka’s) mission on vocations,” said Adams. St. Thérèse is the patroness of vocations in the Diocese of Peoria.
A member of St. Mary Parish in Metamora, Adams added that participants commenced a five-day novena to St. Thérèse once in Darien. It was to be completed on Friday, Sept. 29, in advance of her feast day on Sunday, Oct. 1.
Katie Axelson and her husband, Dominic, members of St. Philomena Parish in Peoria, had already begun a nine-day novena to St. Thérèse. On Sunday, Sept. 23, the night before the pilgrimage, Katie’s mother-in-law Veronica called and encouraged her to join the pilgrims.
“It was kind of funny timing that we had started the novena,” said Katie Axelson, “and then my mother-in-law Sunday night was like, ‘Oh, you need to come with us.’”
No rush — they were to leave at 7 the next morning.
Katie Axelson agreed that her novena prepared her for the trip. “Thérèse was like ‘Ok, come along,’” she said. Katie, who converted to Catholicism, added that relics were among the factors that originally “piqued my interest in the Catholic faith.”
The day included a tour of the property, including outdoor Stations of the Cross and the Carmelite Meditation Garden. Pilgrims visited the relics and artifacts of the family of saints, took part in Mass, and were accorded a special invitation to eat at the Carmelite Spirituality Center.
There was time for individual prayer and reflection, as well as an opportunity to shop in the Carmelite Gift Shop. The day ended with a talk by Mother Madonna, prioress of Carmel of Mary, Wahpeton, North Dakota, before the bus ride back. While traveling, pilgrims recited the St. Thérèse Chaplet, watched the movie, “The Secret of Saint Thérèse,” and shared their personal experiences of the saint.
Axelson said of Thérèse’s example: “It makes sainthood so attainable.”
Adams added an observation from another of attendees.
“Friendships were formed across the diocese,” she was told, “faith was shared . . . forming the community of the diocese together as one.”
“I loved it,” added Adams.