As one of 25 pilgrims who made a March 11-19 pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi, Father Richard Osborn found himself happily one of the oldest participants at age 35 – “a very good, but not common quality of most pilgrimages … I am so grateful to God for that!” he said.
The parochial vicar in St. James Parish, Red Bank, and chaplain of Red Bank Catholic High School, said that the group was a mix of young adults from his prior parish assignment as well as friends, and friends of friends.
“It’s so important that young people experience faith in a profound way on pilgrimage, so that hopefully their lives are transformed for Christ,” he said.
The group was able to take a day trip to Assisi, where St. Francis, St. Clare and Blessed Carlo Acutis are all buried, in addition to exploring holy sites of Rome. “It’s hard to pick a favorite site,” Father Osborn said, “but I think I’d have to say the Basilica of St. Paul outside the walls, where the apostle St. Paul is buried, is a personal favorite of mine,” noting that both cities “are so deeply connected to our faith.”
Ordained to the priesthood in 2016, Father Osborn has been longing to make a return trip to Rome ever since, having been there a decade ago. “I really wanted to be able to visit and celebrate Mass at some of the holiest places of our faith and bring people along with me,” he continued. “My hope is this pilgrimage will bring about deep transformation in the lives of those who attended as well as vocations for the Lord and his Church.”
The experience of pilgrimage distinguishes itself from a vacation, he said, in that “a vacation is more about passively enjoying or resting in a different place. A pilgrimage is especially a spiritual journey to a place where you hope to encounter Christ more deeply and authentically.”
Above all, Father Osborn relished the celebration of Mass on pilgrimage, “and experiencing all these places as a spiritual father.”