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Holy Family Shrine plans Oct. 17 Walk of Faith

With Jesus, Mary and Joseph serving as the model of hope and inspiration, this year’s Walk of Faith to the Holy Family Shrine near Gretna will feature prayers to strengthen the family.

Set for Oct. 17, the third-annual event also is an opportunity to show solidarity with Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, particularly in light of the family’s portrayal in the culture today, said Matt Sakowski, caretaker.

"When the family is strong, then the community gets strong, and everything grows from there," he said.

Led by Father James Buckley, associate pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Omaha, the six-mile walk begins at 8:30 a.m. at the 4-H camp near Schramm State Park. Reconciliation will be available at the shrine at 11 a.m., and a Mass is planned at noon.

Part of the pilgrimage is visible to travelers on Interstate 80, and, as a witness to the faith, participants this year are encouraged to create and bring flags and banners in honor of the Holy Family and the meetings in Philadelphia, Sakowski said.

"It’s another way to evangelize," he said.

To stress the importance of family to young people, organizers also are encouraging high school and college-age students to participate in the pilgrimage, he said.

As part of the World Meeting of Families, the archdiocese has designated the shrine as a pilgrimage site for a plenary indulgence, Sakowski said.

Along with praying for the pope’s intentions, making the pilgrimage, going to confession and attending Mass helps fulfill the requirements for a plenary indulgence, which removes any temporal punishment for sins committed up to that point in a person’s life.

Nearly 50 people attended last year, he said. Walking and praying the rosary and other prayers together in a rural, outdoor setting free of distraction offers a unique way to connect with God, Sakowski said.

Particularly inspiring, he said, is when the group falls silent for the final stretch of the pilgrimage up a steep hill surrounded by prairie grass.

"It seems like all the worldly things have disappeared, and you are on that destination to God,"
Sakowski said.

Want to go?

From Interstate 80, head south on state Highway 31 about three miles. A sign will point to the 4-H camp.

Vehicles will be available for those unable to walk, as well as a shuttle service from the shrine back to the camp.

No cost and no registration required. Carpooling is encouraged to limit spaces used in the camp lot.

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