We have shared meals and conversations, wine and laughter. We have adventured together to new places, where awe and wonderment can only begin to describe how we feel about the many pilgrimage sites we have seen. Many new friendships have been formed, both with my fellow pilgrims and with those individuals that have shared pieces of our journey with us. We will continue to share memories with one another from a once in a lifetime pilgrimage that will last forever.

I am ever so grateful for the many blessings this journey has given all of us.
I feel that this pilgrimage has provided us with a refreshed and renewed spirit of MIND and HEART to continue the work that was started so many years ago by Father Moreau, Father Sorin, and the many others of Holy Cross that had a hand in shaping the path and vision for Notre Dame du Lac.  This journey has offered us moments of the ZEAL of Father Sorin, to fuel our desire, to share our talents, and to help one another along our path in life.  Together as pilgrims, we have added new members to our FAMILY from around the world by rejoicing in each other and our faith community, and it has provided me with a newfound HOPE in God’s promise of the Kingdom.

With love and many blessings to all of you!

Written by Heather Grocke-Saunders


After I walked through the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and prayed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to offer all of the worries and prayers that are on my heart. We once again were seated for dinner together. The food and drink were incredible. The fellowship and warmth of our flock of pilgrims was resounding throughout the land. Many more rounds of Happy birthday were sung to me throughout dessert, I was truly moved to laughter and tears. As we left the restaurant and happily walked the streets and square of Montmartre, many more spontaneous songs of happy birthday were sung by my pilgrim friends rejoicing in our hearts for life and love for one another. In the square many people joined in song, both visitors and waiters from restaurants. That is when another truly amazing moment happened, a family from Costa Rica approached our group. One of the women in the family exclaimed it is my mother’s birthday too! She is 67 and I am 37. Her name is Natalie. Which is one of my grandmother’s names. The connection I felt was unlike anything I have experienced before. We held hands, hugged each other and cried a little as my friends and her family rejoiced in this birthday celebration. It is one of the many moments this week when I truly felt that my heart was open, my worries had melted away and realized with a clear heart and mind that I am able to be present and open to those wonderfully joyful moments with all that were present.

We ended the evening in Montmartre with a view of the full moon over Paris and a partial view of the Eiffel Tower sparkling one last time, before heading back down all of those winding stairs.

I want to thank all of my fellow pilgrims, and Father John for making my birthday, as well as, this entire adventure amazing.

Each one of you will forever be in my heart and my prayers.

Written by Heather Grocke-Saunders


Our evening in Montmartre was unforgettable. We hopped off the Metro and headed up the circular concrete staircase leading out of the metro station. What a climb that was, the never ending tower of stairs leading up to the city, and then more steps up to the summit and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Upon arriving at the summit, the view of Paris was breathtaking. We arrived at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The beauty of this Basilica is overwhelming. So many pilgrims  from all over the world journeying here to offer their heart to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Many times on this journey we have listened to Father John, Father Frank, and Father Ralph speak about Father Moreau’s devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In our guidebook is a quote from Blessed Basil Moreau’s sermons: “In whatever situation in life we be, we must look at our model and set ourselves to imitate him.”

This is so important to the work that we do with our students, we must look at the model that Jesus provides for us and imitate him to our fullest. In life, we must search within our own hearts and give our hearts to The Lord.  Breathe, let go, trust and give your heart to the Lord. Let your worries not weigh you down. Trust in the Lord.

“O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I offer you my heart. I bring you all my fears, worries, doubts, and concerns, and those of the whole world. I entrust you to my loved ones, living and deceased. Kindle in me the fire of love that burned within you, so that serving you faithfully in this life, I may enter into the joy that you have won for me.”

The previous passage is from a prayer that was shared with us in our guide on this pilgrimage. This prayer has really helped me reflect on the day to day tasks and worries that I have in my heart. This has helped me to see that bringing all of my worries to the Sacred Heart of Jesus will allow room in my heart for all the joy and blessings that life and the kingdom of God has to offer.

Many Blessings!

Written by Heather Grocke-Saunders


We arrived in Paris late evening on Friday night. After sharing a lovely day and evening in Chartres, full of prayer and reflection, dinner and the celebration of Lissa and Nicole’s birthdays in Chartres. Some of us decided to go on an adventure over to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. We paused at the Louvre, the pyramid was glowing. A few of us jumped on the stone blocks in front of the Louvre to take photos and then we continued on. Our adventure spanned thousands of steps, before and after midnight. The Eiffel Tower sparkled and we laughed and cheered that it was sparkling for Lissa and Nichole’s birthday! We continued along the Seine at a leisurely pace, breathing in all the beauty of Paris, sharing stories, laughs, and a refreshed spirit from the journey we have all shared in the previous few days. Soon we approached closer to the Eiffel Tower, it felt as if we walked forever. We thought it would be best if we started to make our way back to the hotel. It was a few moments before midnight, when we crossed over a bridge. We stopped to take a few photos with the Eiffel Tower behind us, and the second that Midnight hit, with the Tower sparkling again. My birthday began! Cheers of Happy Birthday rang out from our group on the streets of Paris, my husband called me to wish me a happy birthday. I received a few messages from family and friends, but little did I know, that there were many many more cheers of Happy Birthday to come, as well as,  many more steps and flights of stairs to come…
Written by Heather Grocke-Saunders