One of the ways for the faithful to gain a Plenary Indulgence in this Year of Faith is to… “On any day they chose, during the Year of Faith, if they make a pious visit to the baptistry, or other place in which they received the Sacrament of Baptism, and there renew their baptismal promises in any legitimate form.” (For more on the Plenary Indulgences during this Year of Faith, read about it here.)
When I had initially heard about this Plenary Indulgence, I thought it might be difficult, given the fact that I now live 500 miles away from my hometown in New Jersey. In some respects, I envied those people (like my husband and sons) whose complete sacramental history is confined to one church close by. However, the more I thought about it, the more it intrigued me. After all, it had been 45 years since I had last visited the church of my Baptism. Once the decision was made, however, it just made sense to also visit the churches where I received my other sacraments, since all three churches were within a 15-20 mile range. So instead of embarking on a Baptismal Pilgrimage, I decided to make it a “Sacramental Pilgrimage.” My husband came along to photograph the journey.
1. Sacred Heart Church, Camden NJ – The Sacraments of Baptism, First Penance, First Communion
My first stop was Sacred Heart Parish in Camden, NJ. This parish is situated in the heart of inner city Camden. Although it had been 45 years since I had last visited this parish, I recognized both the church and school immediately.
After taking a few photos in front of the Church, we tried to open the doors, but they were locked. We headed to the rectory and the secretary (Ann) answered the door with a smile on her face. When I told her that I was making a sacramental pilgrimage and that I was baptized (and made my First Communion) here, her smile widened and she excitedly invited us in to meet Monsignor Doyle and the staff, who were having breakfast in the small kitchen. This kind and gracious group of people made me feel special and I’m grateful for their generous and warm welcome.
2. St. Richard’s Church, Philadelphia, PA – The Sacrament of Confirmation
A short car drive across the Walt Whitman Bridge to South Philly took us to St. Richard’s Church, where I was confirmed.
Not only was I confirmed in this Church, my parents were married here 58 years ago.
I didn’t realize that James took this photo until I viewed the digital camera later…I said a prayer for my (deceased) parents after lighting a candle for them.
3. St. Maria Goretti Church, Runnemede, NJ – The Sacrament of Marriage
The last stop on my sacramental pilgrimage was to St. Maria Goretti Church (Holy Child Parish) in Runnemede, New Jersey. We actually attend this church several times a year when we visit New Jersey since it is close to my sister’s house.
My sacramental pilgrimage was a day of fond memories, prayers and gratitude for the beautiful gift of my Catholic Faith. I highly recommend it to all who are able to visit the church of their Baptism (and other sacraments if time allows.)
Is the Church of your Baptism nearby or faraway? How easy or difficult would it be to make a Sacramental Pilgrimage? Feel free to comment below.
Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach