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FAQs: Pilgrimage

What is the Diocesan Pilgrimage?

Conceived originally when he was serving as Bishop of Harrisburg, PA, the idea of carrying a cross through the streets of town on the Saturday before Palm Sunday was the brainchild of William Cardinal Keeler, retired Archbishop of Baltimore. Bishop W. Francis Malooly, the Bishop of Wilmington, served as Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore under Cardinal Keeler and participated for years in the diocesan pilgrimage in Baltimore. When he arrived in Wilmington, Bishop Malooly “carried” the idea up the road and invited the young people of the Diocese of Wilmington to consider beginning their own tradition of pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage is a chance for youth and young adults, specifically those in grades 6 through age 35, their families, and young adults in the diocese to commemorate Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and his own pilgrimage to Calvary on Good Friday. During the pilgrimage, young people from parishes and schools take turns carrying the cross alongside Bishop Malooly.

The Pilgrimage Cross is a replica of the World Youth Day Cross, which was given to the young people of the world by Pope John Paul II in 1984. This replica was constructed by members of the Youth Leadership Team and carried by the team at the opening liturgy of the One Spirit, One Church conference on March 1, 2009, where Bishop Malooly blessed the cross for its use in our communities.

On March 27, 2010, more than 400 youth and adult leaders carried the cross through the city streets of Wilmington in our diocese’s first Youth Pilgrimage. In 2011, more than 700 youth and young adults attended and in 2013, our numbers jumped to more than 1,200. May God bless us as we continue to grow and delight in the Lord.

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Can my School or Parish carry a Banner or Sign?

In 2014, CYM created signs for every parish and school, which will be provided to registered parties free of charge. 

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What Do Parents Need to Know?

Parents are encouraged to participate with their young person. When your child was baptized, you accepted responsibility for "training him (her) in the practice of the faith." You were told by the priest or deacon, "It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor." This is what the Pilgrimage is all about.

If there are younger children in the family, they are welcome to attend with the parents but, just like anywhere in public, they are the parent’s responsibility and are not part of a parish group. 

All young people in grades 6-12 must be part of a group or be accompanied by their parents. All young people below grade 6 may only attend if one or both parents attend. Anyone who attends must be able to complete the 3+ mile walk.

Parents of participants who are attending as part of a parish or school group should know that CYM will do everything in its power to keep young people safe. There is police presence at the event directing traffic and all adults serving as chaperones should have been cleared by the parish youth minister, director of religious education, or school principal for service with young people. This clearance involves the successful completion of a criminal background check, the review and signing of an adult volunteer covenant, and safe environment training by parish personnel. If you have any questions about the event or the adult leaders from your parish or school, please contact either CYM (302-658-3800) or your local parish/school contact.

Even if you attend with your own child, you may not deviate from the route, leave early, or arrive late without first clearing these arrangements with CYM.

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What Should Pilgrims Bring?

Every person participating in the Pilgrimage should wear comfortable walking shoes (the entire route is about 3 miles long), as well as layered clothing. Pilgrims should bring a rosary, a good, positive attitude and, of course, a lunch. Check the weather and dress appropriately because we walk rain or shine. Think about bringing (if appropriate) sunscreen, a rain poncho, gloves, hat, sunglasses.

Do not bring an iPod or MP3 players, headphones or any device that prevents you from interacting with others along the route. You will completely miss the point (and perhaps some important instructions) if you bring such items. 


Cell phones are acceptable for use in cases of emergencies. Please refrain from texting while walking. Remember, please, CYM is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

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How Much Does the Pilgrimage Cost?

The cost of the Pilgrimage is $15 per person, including all adults. The maximum cost for a family is $45 for immediate related family members. Monies collected helps CYM defray costs for permits, sound equipment, police, security, professional musicians, and any items each participant will receive. One dollar of every pilgrim’s $15 payment is set aside for use as scholarships for those in our diocese who are in need but would like to participate. Scholarship forms can be found on the event page. Thanks to the generosity of St. Francis Hospital, CYM will not incur costs for having medical personnel present for the day (a requirement of such an event).

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What Happens During the Pilgrimage?

Participants will gather at the St. E’s Center of St. Elizabeth parish for registration and opening prayer and a concert. The pilgrimage will begin with a procession out of the church and down the block. From St. Elizabeth the cross will be carried to St. Francis Hospital where a Litany will be recited for the patients in the hospital and the Bishop will offer a blessing for the sick and our staff. We will then travel to St. Anthony of Padua where participants will enjoy lunch (that they will pack and bring with them the day of the event) and will be offered a chance to participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Our pilgrimage continues to a location to be determined where we will experience the Stations of the Cross. The cross will then be carried to St. Paul Church downtown where the pilgrimage participants will experience Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. From St. Paul parish, we will turn the corner to St. Hedwig parish. Here we will begin the Palm Sunday liturgy with the Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem. Finally, the pilgrimage proceeds back to St. Elizabeth parish for Mass with Bishop Malooly. The day ends after Mass (around 6:15 pm).

There are no evening activities. These plans are subject to change.

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Who Should Attend the Pilgrimage?

Bishop Malooly and the staff of CYM invite all young people in grades sixth through twelfth to attend as well as young adults (age 18-35). As you put the details of your delegation together, please consider inviting the following: high school confirmation candidates, campus ministry teams, religion classes, scouts, youth group members, youth involved in justice and service, Hispanic youth and young adults, young adult faith sharing groups, college students.

All registration should happen ahead of time. The deadline is March 15, 2013. So that participants can get to know their diocesan neighbors - and so we know who is registered - all participants (adults and young people) will wear a name tag during the entire pilgrimage. Therefore, when you register a group, please be prepared to submit a list of names.

If you plan to attend as a family or individual (i.e., young adults), the same process is followed.

All those under 18 (or still in high school) registering as part of a parish group or attending as a family, must have a completed Form B (Parental Permission and General Liability Waiver). Group leaders will be responsible for collecting and keeping these documents. They will not be turned in to CYM. Please make sure you duplicate these documents and have each young person carry a copy of their own Form B with them during the Pilgrimage.

All adults serving as chaperones must be cleared for service according to the FSGC policies. Adults are also encouraged to fill out Form B and carry it with them in case of an emergency. Parents who are not "cleared adults" may attend but may at no time take charge of any young people other than their own.

Categories: Pilgrimage