Hundreds from the Diocese of Trenton attend the 2015 pilgrimage in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. This year’s pilgrimage will be Nov. 4. Ken Falls photo

Hundreds from the Diocese of Trenton attend the 2015 pilgrimage in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. This year’s pilgrimage will be Nov. 4. Ken Falls photo

From Staff Reports

Like a patriarch looking forward to the next family reunion, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., is joyfully anticipating the upcoming diocesan pilgrimage Nov. 4 to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

His enthusiasm was evident when the Bishop recently recorded a video message in which he extends a personal invitation to the faithful of the Diocese, asking them to take part in the daylong celebration. It will be the fourth pilgrimage that Bishop O’Connell has led since first coming to the Diocese in 2010.

Related coverage: 2015 Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Basilica

With the theme of “United in Christ,” the day will begin as the pilgrims arrive in Washginton by the busload about 11:30 a.m. People will gather in the Great Upper Church at noon for the recitation of the Angelus, followed by recitation of the Rosary. Pilgrims will then be free to tour various shrine chapels and listen to some of the presentations that have been planned. 

The day will hold special activities for children, especially first communicants from 2016 and 2017, to whom a special invitation was extended. Children will receive a “Pilgrim Passport” upon their arrival that has a number of designated chapels listed for them to visit. After each chapel visit, the children’s passport will be stamped.

The Bishop will also gather with all children in Memorial Hall, where he will lead catechetical talks on topics of faith.

There will be time for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, an opportunity to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and lunch. The day will conclude with the celebration of Mass in the Great Upper Church at 3 p.m. with Bishop O’Connell as principal celebrant and homilist.

In his video message, Bishop O’Connell said he was looking forward to greeting the pilgrims when they arrive to the shrine, considered to be the nation’s preeminent Marian shrine, dedicated to the patroness of the United States – the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception. Often referred to as “America’s Catholic church,” the Byzantine-Romanesque basilica is the largest Roman Catholic Church in the United States and North America, and it is regarded as one of the 10 largest churches in the world.

Though the historic Trinity Dome project, which involves the adornment of the shrine’s central and largest dome, will not officially be completed and fully unveiled until its formal dedication Dec. 8, some parts will be visible, according to a spokesperson for the shrine.  Bishop O’Connell shared his excitement that members of the Diocese – many of whom likely contributed to the $100,000 donation that was given by the Diocese for the dome project – will be able to see some of the beautiful work that has been done.

A list of parishes that are planning to run buses for the pilgrimage and a schedule of the day can be found at dioceseoftrenton.org/pilgrimage. For more information, prospective pilgrims are encouraged to contact their local parish office.

Be sure to look for a special section about the shrine and the pilgrimage in the Nov. 2 issue of The Monitor.