MERCER/AUGLAIZE COUNTIES — “Stepping Up the Call,” the annual pilgrimage for vocations now in its seventh year, drew more than 150 walkers (plus additional participants in cars) on Saturday, May 8.
At least 77 “first-timers” joined the veterans, said Sister Carolyn Hoying, vocations director for the Sisters of the Precious Blood and one of the pilgrimage’s organizers.
The pilgrimage, held rain or shine, has experienced a variety of weather conditions over the years. This year strong winds made chilly temperatures feel even colder, but pilgrims were undeterred, bundling into parkas, hoodies, multiple layers and donning stocking caps and gloves.
As in past years, the pilgrimage drew participants from several states as well as the Mercer-Augliaze counties area. Pilgrims came from Illinois, Indiana, and all parts of Ohio, from Cincinnati in the south to Glandorf, Delphos, Ottawa and other points north.
The pilgrimage kicked off from St. Augustine Church in Minster after morning prayer and concluded with afternoon Mass at St. Charles Center in Carthagena. Along the route, walking pilgrims – easily identifiable in their signature red T-shirts, prayed the rosary and sang hymns. The participants stopped at other area churches and shrines to pray for church vocations and to hear inspirational talks on how individuals respond to God’s call in the various vocations: diocesan and religious order priesthood, the diaconate, religious sisterhood and brotherhood, and lay single and married life.
The annual “Stepping Up the Call” pilgrimage is co-sponsored by the Sisters and Missionaries of the Precious Blood and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Dozens of volunteers and behind-the-scenes helpers help make the event possible each year, donating or making snacks and lunches, sponsoring T-shirts, offering the hospitality of their church, transporting walkers back to their vehicles, and providing safety escorts along the roadways.
“Stepping Up the Call” is held each year on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Mark your calendar now for next year’s date and watch this site for information on next year’s pilgrimage.
Story by Pat Morrison