By Ashley Elizabeth Limon
CHINO—The summer heat had arrived and the journey was five miles long.
But that didn’t stop more than 200 local Catholics from walking from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Ontario to Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Chino on June 25 to mark the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Father John Vieira, Pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, led the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, which contains the designated Holy Door of Mercy for the West End Vicariate of the Diocese.
“I could feel the Holy Spirit in every step,” said Deacon Gary Quinn. “It was a very uplifting experience. I experienced the richness of mercy through the journey.”
In his letter declaring the Year of Mercy Pope Francis wrote, “the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion.” The five-mile walk was a response to the Holy Father’s words.
As they walked to the Holy Door the pilgrims took turns carrying St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s One Year of Mercy Cross, which was made by the parish employees. They enjoyed each other’s company throughout the journey.
“I did it to set an example for other parishioners that we have to take action and participate in the Year of Mercy,” said parishioner Coleen Richards.
For those who made the round trip, the pilgrimage was a long ten mile walk on a very hot day. Because of these factors, Fr. Vieira said he was surprised by the large number of people who participated. As the crowd walked Knights of Columbus served as crossing guards at every intersection.
“These men served us very well, as is typical of their loving kindness when they serve us,” said Placido Andrade.
Upon arrival at Our Lady of Guadalupe pilgrims prayed before entering the Holy Door of Mercy. Once inside the church they prayed the Litany of Divine Mercy that Pope Francis prayed for the Jubilee Year. The pilgrims had smiles on their faces as they prayed. The many voices that joined in prayer were faithfully and enthusiastically uniting to ask God for mercy in all aspects. After praying, the generous volunteers of Our Lady of Guadalupe provided refreshments to the pilgrims, in order to help them in their journey back to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
“I was both surprised and amazed by the number of people who showed up seeking mercy,” Fr. Vieira said. “ I was equally surprised when many of the pilgrims decided to walk back with me to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, for a total of ten miles.”
As they walked back, Richards remarked, “this is how Jesus must have felt while walking 40 days in the desert. For him I can do this, and I would do it again.”
The Door of Mercy at Our Lady of Guadalupe is open every day from 7am- 9:30pm for any parishioner who wishes to make a pilgrimage and feel the power of mercy in this year of Jubilee Year that ends on November 20.
Ashley Elizabeth Limon is a parishioner of Holy Innocents in Victorville.