“Time flies” — how appropriate for our pilgrimage! The last 3 days have been a whirlwind of excitement and exhaustion for me, as well as my 18 pelerins (pilgrims).  It’s hard (and somewhat sad!) to believe that we will be leaving this beautiful country in just a few short days.  As I wake up in Le Mans for the second time and look across the town from room trois-zero-six at the Concordia Hotel, I give thanks to all those who have made this such a fulfilling experience.

Just three days ago we gathered outside the Main Building on Notre Dame’s campus to load a bus to the airport… at least that’s what I thought.  Sorin Circle was more than just a meeting location. Pilgrims from the 2015 and 2016 journeys joined us to offer us well-wishes, prayers, and last minute advice. Laughter and hugs (and a little bit of jealousy!) permeated our gathering. After a prayer from Fr. Pete McCormick, C.S.C., Director of Campus Ministry (and 2015-16 pilgrim), and remarks from Erin Hoffmann Harding, Vice President for Student Affairs (and 2016 pilgrim), I realized just how special this experience would be. We boarded the buses for the journey to O’Hare, and our fellowship began to form as we asked questions of each other and began to develop deeper relationships.

Shortly after arriving at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, we were greeted by Fr. John De Riso, C.S.C., Rector of the Shrine of Blessed Basil Moreau. When I think about the charism of hospitality within the Congregation of Holy Cross, I can think of many C.S.C. priests who have made me feel so welcome at Notre Dame over the last 19 years… and Fr. John is no different.  It became apparent as we boarded our bus to Le Mans that we were in for what past pilgrims have described as a true experience in Holy Cross hospitality.

I have many memories that I look forward to sharing in the coming days!

Written by Ryan Willerton