Day 1 & 2 | Embarking with OPEN Baggage, Part 1

Part 1 – Beginning the Journey

Welcome to the Year of the Fiat! What better way to begin such a glorious new year in our Lord’s Kingship than with a beautiful awareness of His Blessed Mother’s perfect receptivity to Redemption? Such an openness to God’s Will of course is exactly why she becomes the perfect example for us to emulate, and I believe it’s why we have embarked on this exciting journey to World Youth Day in Panama. If you are joining us on the blog, then please feel free to share and reflect with us in prayer during our incredible journey. Otherwise, let Mary’s great Fiat for which all of Heaven so greatly yearned wash over you more deeply in these pilgrim reflections.

Wherever it takes you, know our prayers are with you back home, and that God is certainly pleased with the openness of your heart! Such a bold openness of course doesn’t come easy. In fact, it requires the grace of God just to put on a happy face sometimes, especially in the face of discomfort or inconvenience. That’s why pilgrimages are so transformative I guess, for it is through the disfunction and difficulty that we encounter Christ most perfectly. It is through the Threshold of Hope as St. John Paul the Great called it, that we can most distinguish between the façade and the infrastructure, between fleeting relief and unshakeable joy, between the pain of abortion and the ecstasy of the Incarnation.

During these 12 days, we invite you into the heart of Christmas, into the heart of the Incarnation Himself as we ourselves unpack why the March for Life and World Youth Day were providentially placed so closely together at such a time as this. For us of course, we can only encounter this logic through the logos of the Word Made Flesh where faith and reason become One. Most practically, that will come through our first-hand account of both powerful experiences, for this week at the National March for Life in Washington, D.C. and then next week at the International World Youth Day Pilgrimage in Panama are sure to be incredible.

Only six of us will be taking the plane from D.C. to Houston on toward Panama, with three others flying from Louisville to meet us—making nine total pilgrims who have been destined to cross this threshold together. With many months of preparation behind us, and with the prayers and overwhelming support of everyone back home, we have already recognized the grace God gave us with these nine companions.

As the great Lord Elrond said to JRR Tolkein’s cherished heroes in The Lord of the Rings,

“Nine companions. So be it. You shall be known as the Fellowship of the [FIAT]”

We are excited to have you share in this great fellowship with Mother Mary as she continues to lead us ever more deeply into the Sacred Heart of her Son, Jesus!

Now, beginning this pilgrimage was no longer the mustard seed of hidden, almost imperceptible stirrings within our longing hearts, but had now been pruned and set ablaze with divine love in a way that banished the uncertainty of future collaboration and propelled us powerfully into the future! From Snowpocalypse 2016 to sleeping in a small van in a parking garage in 2017 and then the encounter with 40 pilgrims in our first charter bus together in 2018—we have now witnessed an historic unity within the Archdiocese of Louisville that has shaken off the chains of parochial slavery in hopes to embrace the Promised Land of Lifelong Discipleship!

Starting last night with a powerful Holy Hour led by Deacon Stephen Bowling, the Director of Family Ministries in the Archdiocese, we were also blessed to have our first opportunity for Confession with our home pastor Fr. Joe Rankin for St. Luke and St. Rita. Ed Harpring, the Director of Pro-Life Ministry in the Archdiocese, was instrumental in working out the details for this pilgrimage, and Erik Stearman’s beautiful openness led us in praise and worship as we glimpsed the Beatific Vision in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus Christ blessed us abundantly this year, with three busloads of students—25 from Trinity, 15 from DeSales, 2 from Holy Cross, 15 from Assumption, 15+ from the Circle of Life Youth, 15+ from Bethlehem HS, and my goodness, I have lost track! For us to all leave together at the same time with the same general itinerary is a profound initiative that has never before been as successful and openly embraced for the benefit of young people in the recent memory of the Archdiocese.

From there, we entered the great journey with Shockey Tours, complete with an opening Rosary for the building up of a true and sustainable Culture of Life and some much-needed “nap time”. The initial chaos of departure that had jolted us out of Adoration’s Silence seemed to be behind us, and with some goodnight texts and phone calls to our loved ones back home, it was time to lean back and enjoy the ride…


If only it was that simple.


From your brethren in Christ,

The Fellowship of the Fiat



Author: circleoflifeyouth

Young people building a culture of life in southern Louisville with a strong devotion to the Eucharist through Consecration to Mary.

One thought on “Day 1 & 2 | Embarking with OPEN Baggage, Part 1”

  1. Oh John how I have missed your writing! Safe travels to WYD. Sad to be missing it this year, as I sure could use some guidance on God’s Will. I will be in prayer for all of you as I hope you are for . me.


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