Saturday, January 19, 2002

Faith Matters

Journey valuable as goal

        Curled on the bench seat of my parents' old van, I spent most of the ride from Louisville to Florida imagining what it would be like when we arrived.

        Would the ocean water be just right, not too wild, not too tame? Would we find a conch shell on the beach that I could hold to my ear and hear the roar of waves?

        “Are we there yet?”

        In these post-race riot, post-Sept. 11 days, I'm riding the back seat again, eager to arrive.

        U.S. soldiers have been in Afghanistan for nearly four months, and I'm impatient.

        “Are we there yet?”

        Race relations groups in Cincinnati have had nine months to promote healing.

        “Are we there yet?”

        A pilgrimage Thursday by Pope John Paul II will be a reminder that sometimes the journey is as important as the destination.

        More than 50 religious leaders of several faiths will join the pope on a two-hour train ride from Rome to Assisi. There, they will pray separately but for the same cause: to promote peace and condemn violence committed in the name of religion.

        The destination is significant. Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan friars and promoter of peace.

        But the journey plays a vital role too.

        A cardinal who organized the event told the Vatican newspaper the pilgrimage shows that “the followers of various religions are convinced that it is necessary for them to travel together on the path that leads to peace.”

        The pope has asked Catholics and others to join him in a pilgrimage and to hold interfaith services to pray together for peace. Tristate residents have two chances.

        The Franciscan Friars based in Over-the-Rhine will host an interfaith vigil at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Monica-St. George parish, 328 West McMillan Street, Clifton. Information: 513-721-4700.

        Speakers include Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, Rabbi Abie Ingber of the Hillel Jewish Student Center, Dr. Majed Qureshi of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati and Carol Tyler of Buddhist Cincinnati.

        The archdiocese also encourages members to make a pilgrimage. Three churches will open their doors: the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, 8th and Plum streets, downtown; the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Dayton; and St. Augustine Church in Minster, Ohio.

        “A pilgrimage is not just a trip,” says Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. “It's an inward journey.”

        Send religion news to or contact Richelle Thompson at 513-755-4144, 755-4150 (fax).


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