EMMITSBURG, Md. (CNS) — Stephanie Rubeling’s support of the priesthood goes beyond thoughts and prayers.
The 54-year-old parishioner of St. Peter the Apostle in Libertytown was among 19 hardy souls who set out Nov. 9 for a three-day trek on foot from Emmitsburg to Baltimore, dubbed “Fifty Miles in Faith: Pilgrimage-Walk for the Priesthood in Penance and Prayer.”
(See a related video.)
It began with a Mass at St. Joseph in Emmitsburg and ended with another Mass Nov. 11 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.
Pilgrims arrived the day in Baltimore before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opened its fall assembly there Nov. 12-14. The clergy sexual abuse crisis, which precipitated the pilgrimage, topped the bishops’ agenda.
Rubeling had to miss the second day of the pilgrimage; she and her husband, Gary, were among those at a Nov. 12 wedding in Montgomery County, with their eldest son, Father Michael Rubeling, as the celebrant. He is associate pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Severna Park.
She had five of her nine other children in tow for the start of the pilgrimage, including Peter, a student at nearby Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, who is serving his pastoral year at St. Mark in Fallston and is expected to join his brother as a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Another brother, Timothy, recently entered formation with the Capuchin Franciscans.
“As the mother of a priest and a seminarian,” Stephanie Rubeling said, “we need to do whatever we can to help priests and the church to repair the damage done and support those who want to move forward in holiness. Coming out of our comfort zone a little bit is a good thing.
“There is so much negative media. We need to go the extra mile, pardon the pun, in support of priests who are trying to lead holy lives, and remind everyone, there are good things going on in the church,” she told the Catholic Review, the news outlet of the Baltimore Archdiocese.
Pilgrims set out mid-morning in 41-degree temperatures and in a mist forecast to become an afternoon downpour, so ponchos and hand warmers were available, in addition to bottled water.
Their itinerary included overnight stops at St. Batholomew in Manchester and the Church of the Nativity in Timonium. The pilgrimage, averaging 17 miles a day, went through four jurisdictions of the Baltimore Archdiocese, including Frederick, Carroll and Baltimore counties and the city of Baltimore.
It was led by Father John “Jack” Lombardi, pastor of St. Peter in Hancock and St. Patrick in Little Orleans. He also led “Feet for Francis,” a weeklong, 100-mile walk from Baltimore to Philadelphia in September 2015, in conjunction with the archdiocese, to see Pope Francis on his visit to the U.S.
Walkers and support personnel this trek included several veterans of that pilgrimage, including Paul and Paula Tiller of St. Peter in Hancock and Pat and Laura Hamilton of St. Agnes in Catonsville.
“This is a reminder that we’re walking for the Lord, to repair what’s been torn,” Father Lombardi said before setting out toward Main Street in Emmitsburg and east on to Taneytown Pike. “It is our privilege to walk.”
Father Lombardi previously served as chaplain of National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, another religious landmark in the historic town of Emmitsburg.
He concelebrated Mass with Vincentian Father Harry F. Armone, associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish, which held a listening session regarding the clergy sex abuse scandals Nov. 5.
Father Armone noted that it was the feast of the dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, a reminder “to see us as part of something bigger than ourselves. Don’t fall into the trap of American individualism. We are saved. It’s not ‘I am saved.'”
Emmitsburg’s St. Joseph Church, founded in 1793, had an early parish roll that included St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
“Any place that has the remains of the first American-born canonized saint is always a good place to begin a pilgrimage, or end one,” said Vincentian Father Martin F. McGeough, pastor. “This was Mother Seton’s parish in Emmitsburg. Her presence here gives it a special aura of sanctity.”
McMullen is managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103