Teenagers are called to attend a pilgrimage to honor St. Paul

CHARLESTON — Youths in grades six through twelve from across the state are invited to attend the Pauline Year Teen Pilgrimage Nov. 22 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
This is not your parents’ seminar with a lot of sitting and listening to speakers all day. The pilgrimage will be filled with activity, skits, prayer and movement, said Marie Donnelly, director of youth ministry at the Cathedral.
Father Gregory B. Wilson, administrator of the Cathedral, will kick off the pilgrimage with a celebration of the Votive Mass of St. Paul at 9 a.m.
Mass will be followed by ice breakers to engage everyone in the spirit of the event. Father Wilson and Donnelly also will lead activities and games designed to bring St. Paul to life.
Donnelly said it is important for youths to recognize that St. Paul is as much a hero as any of the masked or caped crusaders of today. He was a persecutor of Christians who came to see the light of God and dedicated himself to evangelization. Paul then became the one who was persecuted and eventually put to death.
“We want them to catch the fire and the zeal of St. Paul,” she said.
To do this, organizers have tried to replicate the feel of an actual pilgrimage, which by definition is a journey of great moral significance.
Participants will leave the Cathedral and travel to Pauline Books & Media on King Street and St. Mary of the Annunciation on Hasell Street. Along the way they will be treated to a skit performed by students from the College of Charleston.
Most importantly, they will have the opportunity to obtain a plenary indulgence, which is the remission of all punishment due to sin, as authorized by Pope Benedict XVI to honor St. Paul. A full indulgence is only achieved by receiving the sacrament of confession and the Eucharist, and praying for the pope’s intentions.
The youths will be able to accomplish all of this at the teen pilgrimage.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to do is give the kids the opportunity to gain the indulgence in a way that means something to them,” Donnelly said.
Youths attending the pilgrimage need to bring their own food and drink. They will be given a traveler’s bag to carry it in and can eat what they want when they want, just like the pilgrims of old.
Coordinators of the event decided against a catered, sit-down luncheon because it went against the grain of making a sacred journey.
Youths will end up back at the Cathedral for closing ceremonies at 3 p.m.
The Pauline year runs from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, to mark the approximately 2,000th anniversary of the saint’s birth.
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was designated a place of pilgrimage by Msgr. Martin T. Laughlin, administrator of the Diocese of Charleston.
Other pilgrimage churches are: Precious Blood of Christ, Pawleys Island; St. Anthony, Florence; St. Francis by the Sea, Hilton Head Island; St. Paul the Apostle Mission, Seneca; St. Paul the Apostle, Spartanburg; St. Peter, Beaufort; and St. Peter, Columbia.
Father Wilson hopes the pilgrimage idea will appeal to other youth groups and churches across the state.

For more information
or to register, contact
Marie Donnelly at (843) 724-8395.