A Christian pilgrimage to help people encounter God and share in fellowship with others; inspired by the life of Ven. Fulton J. Sheen.
Archbishop Sheen was born and raised in Central Illinois. He became famous through his broadcasts on radio and television, even winning an Emmy in 1953. Also, as part of his assignments, he traveled the world preaching the Gospel and bringing many to faith in Christ. He is admired around the globe, but is most beloved by those in his home Diocese of Peoria, IL. Sheen is currently entombed in St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Peoria.
Many faithful devotees of Archbishop Sheen currently visit his tomb and pray for his intercession. Therefore, some of us locals in Central Illinois wanted to create a pilgrimage event unique to our area. One which shares the culture of where Fulton Sheen was raised through people and landscape. We also wanted a traditional pilgrimage which included physical effort alongside spiritual practices.
Why the Trail?
The initial inspiration for this event came from “the originator” Ben Gottemoller. He is a local Catholic man and devotee of Sheen, who in 2019 proclaimed, “The Rock Island Trail will be Peoria's El Camino de Santiago.” The R.I. Trail is a recreation trail which travels from rural communities north of Peoria, through the city, and eventually passes St. Mary’s Cathedral downtown. The comparison to the historic Spanish pilgrimage Camino de Santiago is due to both the walking route and final destination. The Camino finishes at the tomb of St. James the Apostle and ours will finish at the tomb of the saintly Fulton J. Sheen. Also, a similarity to that pilgrimage is the development of multiple routes. We have heard of different paths people have traveled to Sheen's tomb. We are excited to offer this one!
Sacrifice, Joy, Unity
These three themes were discerned as we completed the first pilgrimage in 2020. As we traveled, we prayed with the words and example of Sheen seeking inspiration for further structure. These three strood out as essential elements of the Christian life which Archbishop Sheen embodied. Each will be a guiding theme for a day of our pilgrimage.
The main point of pilgrimage is to encounter God and grow in holiness. This is done especially through the spiritual practices of our Catholic tradition. There will be Mass, prayer, and short talks offered daily. Confession will also be available at different points. Prayers/Devotions will include Scripture, the Divine Office, the Rosary, and excerpts from Archbishop Sheen’s writings. Everything offered is completely optional and you can participate without joining for all aspects. We will provide handouts with some of the above mentioned prayers. If a person has questions at any point, we are here to help!
Community is an important part of this pilgrimage. Friends are “other selves” and essential for human flourishing, particularly where faith is shared. We’ve modeled this event somewhat like the Camino de Santiago, where there is walking during the day and get-togethers in the evening. Both parts of the day can be opportunities for socializing and spiritual conversations. If individuals choose to be more quiet and reflective during the walking, that is welcomed. This event is for all ages.
September 23-25, 2022
Day 1- We will begin in Princeville, IL (trail access by Cutter's Grove Park) and walk to Alta Rd. Trailhead. (10mi)
Halfway will be North Park in Dunlap.
Day 2- We will begin at Alta Rd. Trailhead and walk to Glen Oak Park. (10mi)
Halfway will be Donovan Park in Peoria.
Day 3- We will begin at Glen Oak Park and walk to St. Mary's Cathedral. (3mi)
There are restrooms along the trail as well as water fountains. We will also provide plenty of water. If anyone wishes to do modified/partial walks on any of the days that is completely fine. You can coordinate this on your own or we plan to help coordinate transportation as well. In addition we will have a few support crew volunteers that can assist with any issues along the way.
8am- Mass (at local parish)
9am-3pm- Walk (prayers/devotions. lunch, etc.)
5-8pm- Social (dinner & fellowship)
Breakfast will be on your own. We are able to provide basic meals for lunch each day, and dinner will be provided at each of the evening gatherings. In order to allow us to have enough food, we ask that people let us know when they will be attending through the sign-up form. If anyone has special dietary needs, we also ask that they let us know through the sign-up. Obviously, you can also bring your own food for any meals. We will provide plenty of water each day.
This will be the responsibility of each participant. For those from out of town, we recommend staying with someone you know in Peoria. If that is not possible, then there are several hotels or campsites nearby. We are happy to assist people in finding a place if they want, just contact us as early as possible.
These events will take place after walking during the day. There will be food and fellowship available. They will be casual and last a few hours. We will send out the locations & times to those who sign-up.
We recommend people start walking a little leading up to the pilgrimage. The route is not super arduous, but will cause more muscle soreness if not used to exercise. Bring comfortable clothes and shoes. Also, bring appropriate gear for weather. We will still continue with the walking unless it is severe weather. Other things: sunscreen, water bottle, snacks, Bible, rosary, journal, small backpack, etc.
There will be a small suggested donation to help cover basic expenses. If this is an issue please let us know and we will waive it.
We will send a more complete schedule prior to the pilgrimage. If interested at all please sign-up as this will help us best prepare in all aspects. If you later can't come or modify which days that is not a problem. Contact us with any questions or concerns at email@example.com