A story about my pilgrimages to learn from the Pope

In April, I traveled with ECCO clergy and leaders to Philadelphia to participate in a training about Pope Francis’ teachings on social justice. Together with hundreds of leaders we prayed and studied together. We came together as Christians from many denominations, in a unified spirit to address the pain we see in the world.

I was inspired by the words of Cardinal Óscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, one of the Pope’s closest advisors, who spoke to our group. He challenged us to go out into the street, in our neighborhoods, and throughout our community proclaiming the Good News. Even though he is a very powerful man, he was very humble and took his time to speak to each of us. With his example of service to humanity, I returned to my parish, St. John the Baptist in Peabody ready to proclaim the Gospel! I’m in this picture, on the far right.

“All of us had stories of pain and suffering as immigrants in this country, but we also shared the desire to heal the wounded world around us.”

How ECCO Catholic Congregations Have Been Engaging

Based on what I had learned in Philadelphia, I organized a study group at my congregation that meet throughout the summer reading and discussing Pope Francis’ teachings on economic inequality, immigration, criminal justice reform, and racism. All of us had stories of pain and suffering as immigrants in this country, but we also shared the desire to heal the wounded world around us. My fellow parishioners and I were moved by the deep sharing that members of our group confided in each other. ECCO leaders at St. Mary’s / Sacred Heart – Lynn, Immaculate Conception – Salem, and St. Joseph’s – Lynn also lead similar study groups.

The Pope’s Message

Through his writings and actions, Pope Francis is teaching us that no one should be excluded from the riches of this country. God does not want discrimination. When I see how the Pope hugs and kisses those most ostracized by society, I see Christ. Pope Francis is doing what Jesus did when he walked the earth. He has opened his hands and hearts to the suffering of all our sisters and brothers. He asks us to do the same.

Going to Meet the Pope

On Fri Sep. 25, leaders from four Catholic parishes will travel to Philadelphia to join other PICO leaders from across the country. Like Pope Francis will be doing, we will be stopping at a prison to pray for our brothers and sisters inside. Join us for a prayer vigil at the Suffolk County House of Correction on Friday morning 9/25 (click for more info). Our pilgrimage will then continue. On Sunday afternoon, we will celebrate the mass with Pope Francis, after he makes his own stop to a prison that morning. My excitement is indescribable! I think I might faint!

An Invitation for ECCO to prepare and reflect on our pilgrimage

This Sun, Sep. 20 at 5:00pm at St John the Baptist, 19 Chestnut St. Peabody, you are invited join us to celebrate a mass to bless those going on the pilgrimage to see the Pope. And upon our return, I invite you to join us on Sun. Oct. 4 at St Thomas the Apostle Church, 1 Margin St. Peabody, where we will celebrate our return as pilgrims bringing the Good News and discuss how we will work to bring justice to our communities.

Pope Francis has come to revolutionize our faith and the world. I want to be part of that revolution! Do you?

In Christ’s Love,

– Maria Madera, ECCO leader, St. John the Baptist, Peabody