The NDA 8th Grade Pilgrimage has concluded! I was blessed to be able to encounter our students beyond our hallways as they exemplified their ability to pray, play, and participate at some of our national treasures of Catholic life.

Wednesday morning began with Mass here at IHM. The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is perhaps the most beautiful location of all of our stops. Almost hidden in the bluffs, its natural beauty is complemented with artistic as well as architectural beauty. I can confirm audible “wows” as we entered into the Chapel and main Church. The students quickly found themselves quite literally surrounded by the Saints. First Class relics became a constant treasure the students searched for in all of our locations. A highlight for some was praying for those children who were never born and are interned on the grounds of the Shrine. If you’d like I would encourage you to take a look and perhaps plan a day trip with your family over the Summer:

Thursday morning students were given the option to pray Morning Prayer with Father John and I. I was extremely impressed when well over half of the group were present at 7:00 AM for Morning Prayer! The later morning found us on a walking Pilgrimage for 1.48 miles from Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church to The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help We entered the crypt where Our Lady appeared! We were able to have Mass as a school. Students had the opportunity to go to Confession and pray in Adoration. We also spent some down time playing a group game.

Friday morning began with Morning Prayer again optional and again full of students. We made our way to The National Shrine of Saint Joseph We were graciously hosted by the Norbertines, a religious order of priests who are celebrating 900 years as an order, for the morning as we celebrated a Votive Mass for Saint Joseph and prayed at the Shrine.

Throughout the 8th Grade Pilgrimage students were complemented by more than a dozen adults ranging from hotel staff, shrine volunteers, and other hotel guests. It was humbling to be able to claim them as mine. Their time at NDA as well as the parenting they have received has prepared young adults ready to go out into the world as high schoolers. The opportunity also permitted me to see their Faith life lived out beyond the classroom and school Masses as they stepped out in Faith to venerate relics, spend personal prayer time, and even go to Confession while simply being made aware of the opportunity.

The pilgrimage was incredible! Please don’t just take my word for it; please find some of our student’s thoughts here:

“When we went into the crypt where Mary actually appeared, I was amazed. It was really cool. The atmosphere was incredible. I loved the candles and the lighting. I felt like Mary was really there.  I also went to confession, which was nice.”

“I enjoyed the beautiful aspects of visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. One of my favorite parts was the blue-candle lit chapel. The stained glass windows and blue light made it feel like a really special place. I thought it was nice looking at all of the candles and praying for other people’s intentions. I also liked the beautiful paintings above the 1st class relics. It made me feel more connected to the saint when I knelt by the relic. At the Memorial for Unborn Children, I felt very sad for all of the families with children buried there. Well, at least they have a beautiful place to be buried.”

“I got a very pretty necklace that has a rose charm with a miraculous medal on the back. Father was able to bless it and the next day it became a third class relic after I touched it to the St. Joseph cloak.”

“My favorite part at the shrine was the crypt and shaka ball. I loved getting up early for morning prayer with Father John and Mr. Athey.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

All you Holy Men and Women, Angels and Saints, pray for us.


May God Bless You,

Mr. Scott Athey

Notre Dame Academy