Best Practices

Reenergize Parishioners with Life-Changing Pilgrimage

Parish

Transfiguration Catholic Church
Ypsilanti, MI
Diocese of Lansing
United States

More Info

For more information, email Steve Ray.

Catholic apologist Steve Ray energizes priests and parishioners with dynamic pilgrimages to the birthplaces of Christianity.

"It was deeply meaningful to me as a priest to visit the places of the Holy Land with Steve. He had an amazing way of bringing the Scriptures and the Catholic tradition to life."

Fr. Bob Roggenbuck, Pastor, Transfiguration Parish, Ypsilanti, MI

"We are finding it difficult to put into words what a 'life-changing' event this was for us. Our Holy Land pilgrimage was the most incredible spiritual experience we have ever had. Never again will I attend Mass, hear the Scriptures or experience the Body and Blood of our Lord the same way."

Hilton and Mabel Michel, pilgrimage participants

The need it meets

Adult parishioners, especially if they are life-long Catholics, can easily fall into routine as they try to live their faith, raise their families, and navigate a secularized culture. These pilgrimages shatter the routine with a profound interior renewal.

Where it came from

Steve's conversion launched him into a wide-ranging apostolate of speaking, writing, and producing videos to spread the Catholic faith.

Steve and his wife Janet started Footprints of God Pilgrimages to offer unique, personalized pilgrimages with a touch of adventure and discovery.

Steve has led more than forty of these pilgrimages; both he and Janet are licensed guides with the Commission of Christian Pilgrimages in the Holy Land.

How it works

Before the trip: getting organized

  1. Contact Steve and Janet Ray to organize your own pilgrimage: sray@rc.net.
  2. The Rays will work with you to plan a complete package. They partner with Corporate Travel (a Catholic-owned company in business for over 40 years) to cover planning, registering, travel, and accommodations.
  3. They specialize in lands of the Bible but also lead groups to Rome, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece and more.
  4. If you sponsor or host a pilgrimage, you and the priest of your choice travel for free.
  5. As we enter the year of St Paul, Steve is offering a pilgrimage plan that retraces the steps of St Paul in his conversion and ministry in the early Church.
  6. Open Dates in 2010 for groups to fill:
    • Jan. 13-22
    • Feb. 15-24
    • May 1-10
    • Sept. 21-30
    • Oct 22-31

During the trip, Steve Ray gives explanations of the various sites, using Scripture and Church tradition to bring out their deepest significance. Pilgrims receive:

  1. Spiritual support: Each bus of 50 people travels with a priest and there is daily Mass in the holy places with Confession upon request. The tour itinerary leaves time for prayer, Rosary, Scripture reading, and reflection in the holy places. The pilgrimage supports persecuted Christians in the Holy Land by staying in Christian hotels, shopping at Christian stores, and helping the local Christians as much as possible. Each pilgrim is given two dozen rosaries at a reduced price so that he can touch them to all of the holy places.
  2. Technical support: Each person is given his own headset so that he can hear Steve easily from as far as 300 feet away. Pilgrims also receive Steve's 110-page Handbook for Pilgrims, a personalized 90-minute DVD movie of the trip, and YouTube videos uploaded daily for family and friends to view.
  3. Practical support: Each bus has an experienced American escort whose job is to cater to the pilgrims' needs. Steve and Janet partner with local Catholic guides.
  4. No financial complications: The cost of the trip is paid in full up front. All tips are included; there are no extra charges.

The results

After traveling with Steve and a small group of parishioners, Fr. Bob Roggenbuck observed that Steve

  • Knew the sites and the Scriptures so well that he was able to connect them in meaningful ways.
  • Shed light on the events of the Bible and the tradition of the Catholic Church.
  • Equipped and motivated people to explain the Catholic faith to others.

As a result:

  • Pilgrims have a deeper and more personal prayer life. Their Rosary in particular comes to life.
  • Youths who go with their parents experience the relevance of the faith. It is not uncommon for them to undergo a deep conversion.

Past participants said:

  • "Steve‚Äôs mini-lectures and observations added a whole other dimension to the spiritual experience."
  • "Fantastic! I will never go on a pilgrimage with anyone else. The Bible explanation and stories really helped me grow in my knowledge and spiritually. My life has changed and the Christmas and Easter holidays will never be the same. Praying the Rosary has now become a part of my life."
  • "Through Steve‚Äôs teachings and guidance we were able to see Jesus and the Catholic Church in its beautiful, pure form."

Key elements

Success comes from the dynamism, love, and deep knowledge of Steve and Janet. Organizing is as easy as connecting the dots. More practical tips are online at www.footprintsofgodpilgrimages.com.

This is an excellent activity for leaders of parish activities. Their enrichment will in turn rub off on everyone they serve.

How to implement it

  1. Go to the website for a full listing of upcoming pilgrimages: http://www.footprintsofgodpilgrimages.com/Default.aspx?tabid=59
  2. Contact Steve Ray to organize a pilgrimage.
  3. Promote a pilgrimage in the parish.
  4. You can organize your own pilgrimage or join one already organized (if places are available).

For questions or registration: Email Steve Ray at sray@rc.net or Corporate Travel at info@ctscentral.net. Or call 800-727-1999 ext. 121, or 313-565-8888 ext 121.

Submitted by Trish Bailey on June 24, 2008.
Fr Bob Roggenbuck is pastor of Transfiguration Catholic Church.

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