By Janet MacKinnon
Ten years ago I was on pilgrimage in Italy with Fr. John and pilgrims from St. Andrew and Divine Child. It was a life-changing experience for me. I decided to make the pilgrimage a private retreat experience as much as possible, and was blessed to be part of a group of very holy women from St. Andrew Catholic Church. We began every morning with the Divine Office and rosary before joining the group for breakfast.
Everyday at three, wherever we were, we prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Before retiring every evening we gathered in one another's rooms for night prayer. We prayed for a deepening of faith in Christ for all of the pilgrims. Muriel and I chanced a ride in a taxi and boarded a bus for Chiesa Gesu, my favorite church. I had many opportunities to make sacrifices, offer up my sufferings, fast and pray. I cried at the bones of St. Peter and during Holy Mass in the catacombs.
In Boston, while waiting for a shuttle bus to take us to the terminal on the way home, a young man approached me and asked, "Where are you going?" I told him I was on my way home to Detroit after a long pilgrimage.
"Where did you go?" the young man asked. I said, "To Italy." The gentleman asked, "What did you like best about your pilgrimage?" I said, "Seeing the bones of St. Peter."
The man mentioned that he was Catholic. I asked him if he had ever asked Jesus Christ to come into his heart and life. He said he was not ready for that.
I responded, "Jesus is ready for you. May I pray a prayer with you? You can repeat the words silently in your heart."
"Okay," he said.
Jesus gave me the words to pray and this fine young man invited Christ into his life. Immediately after we prayed he asked if he could hug me. He was trembling. I asked him where he was going. He said he was traveling to Mexico City for his job. I said, "Well, find Catholic church and a good and holy priest and go to confession and begin your life anew."
We boarded the shuttle but I did not see him get off. I truly believe that the pilgrimage prepared me for this experience.
The Good Shepherd was running after this little lamb who was lost.