Dear OSJ Family,

As this week approaches, our city is about to become inundated with pilgrims. No, not the Thanksgiving kind, that is, those English travelers with large awkward hats, odd floppy bonnets and big belt buckles, but the Catholic kind! You see a pilgrim, in the Catholic sense, is a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious purposes. Not unlike the English pilgrims who fled England for religious freedom in a new land. Our very parish, the birthplace of religious freedom and the place which gave Catholicism its start in what was then the British colonies and is now our beloved US, will open its doors to pilgrims from all over the world. We will welcome these travelers who long to pray, to reflect, and to learn in our sacred space and we will celebrate with them the World Meeting of Families which will culminate in an outdoor mass with our first Jesuit pope, Francis!

During the week, OSJ will welcome several groups of pilgrims from as far as the Georgia Tech Catholic Center, to a parish group from Colorado and as nearby as the Prep. They will celebrate small Masses, pray a Holy Hour, offer the rosary and tour our church building so as to learn about our amazing history here at Willings Alley. All are welcome to join them. We will also open Barbelin Hall to all  to view a powerful exhibit, Almas de Boqueron,  which spotlights the early missionary work of the Jesuits in Argentina, the Holy Father’s native land. The exhibit features a unique missionary cross that captures the Jesuit  Mission to share the story of Jesus Christ in terms as simple as possible. It promises to be a beautiful and sacred exhibit!

Afterall,  we are all pilgrims , even if we are watching the papal mass from our favorite chair at home or from the sidelines of the Parkway. We are all pilgrims because we are all traveling, together, to the heart of God. For that reason we call ourselves a “pilgrim church”.

Let us then pray for all those pilgrims that come to our city to grow in faith, let us pray for the Holy Father and the success of his American pilgrimage, and let us pray for ourselves, the “pilgrim church” at Willings Alley, that we will open wide our doors and receive all to our amazing  parish where all are welcome and respected!

With my esteem and respect,

Father Phil Florio, SJ