All For Thee, O Hearts Three!
"Pilgrimages illuminate so much of our faith in goodness and grace." Cardinal Burke
It was that time again, October up in the autumn hills of northeastern Oklahoma on the pilgrimage trail to Clear Creek Monastery. In its 4th year of being open to the public, "the annual Three Hearts Pilgrimage guides thousands of participants through a rigorous terrain for 35 miles over 2 days to their destination: the Benedictine monastery Clear Creek Abbey."
Three Hearts Staff, Moms, dads, children and small babies, grandparents, aunts and uncles all came together to march to honor and make reparations to the Three Hearts of the Holy Family: the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph.
Mary Huffnagel Photo
This year’s 2023 sacrificial walk of reparation had over 2,000 pilgrims from 43 states by the end of the weekend. The walk was a 2-day journey that culminated in a Pontifical High Mass offered by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke at the abbey - the glorious abbey, which serves as a reminder of how the Benedictine Order with its Rule and way of life spread Christianity throughout Medieval Western Europe, changing the trajectory of civilization. The Three Hearts Pilgrimage is a sacrificial walk by design, with the intention of providing a safe journey for souls to offer their spiritual and physical suffering for the sanctity of life and in defense of the traditional family unit, a unit which God intended to be modeled after the Holy Family. Although difficult and penitential, many pilgrims return each year to experience the joy and beauty they find when they come with thousands of others to sacrifice in union with one another. We are working to build something beautiful for God, and beauty is something we try to keep at the center of everything we do as an organization. We use Dostoevsky’s quote often, "Beauty will save the world" - Marcus Robinson, Pilgrimage Director.
The boys of the St. John Bosco Institute, who inaugurated this pilgrimage five years ago and have always walked as the lead chapter, were followed by St. Benedict's Chapter from Ft. Worth Texas. St. Benedict’s had three religious sisters from Europe join the walk for the first morning. It was nice to see other religious in their habits on the trail, with many a young pilgrim stopping to talk with them the night before as they made their way around the camp before the pilgrimage began.
Mary Huffnagel Photo
"The first concrete aspect of turning people toward God is turning the hearts of the fathers toward their children. The Three Hearts Pilgrimage was founded by three fathers in 2019 who wanted to teach their sons the importance of actioning true and good and beautiful things, even when the world is dark and bleak. The fathers felt that their boys should learn to prioritize making these things important in their youth now, for them to draw on these memories and hopefully in turn repeat the cycle with their own families or parishes in the future. They had classmates join them and there were 13 total boys that first walk. The word about the boys and their small pilgrimage spread and people immediately began reaching out, wanting to join the next time they decided to walk. With permission from the Clear Creek monks, the group opened it up to the public that next year, organizing officially under the direction of the St. Placid’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping foster vocations and supporting Catholic education that was started by one of the original three father’s (and first pilgrimage director) Marcus Robinson. Anyone who has attended the pilgrimage might have noticed quite a few staff members wearing kilts - this can be traced back to Robinson’s involvement. He is the eldest of 13 children in a family with a strong connection to their Scottish ancestry. When the pilgrimage opened up to the public, he pulled many of his siblings and their spouses in to help. The Robinson's father had passed away a few years before, and the sons felt that because the pilgrimage is centered around defending and honoring the traditional family unit, they would walk and work the pilgrimage wearing their father’s tartans - and have kept the tradition each year." - Crystal Robinson, Pilgrimage Coordinator
Each year, the Three Hearts PIlgrimage team grows and continues to evolve the operations to be more efficient, as the pilgrimage continues to grow annually by about 45%. Recently they have been taking some cues from the Chartres Pilgrimage in France.
Lorraine Marie Photography
This past year, our directors have been learning and working with the Chartres pilgrimage teams, and they have become great mentors to us and some of our biggest supporters. We had many Zoom calls and traveled to France twice, once to visit their offices and have strategy meetings, and then again to work with them behind the scenes during this past year's Chartres Pilgrimage in June, in order to learn from them within a hands-on setting. They have been a great blessing to us." Marcus Robinson “Both my wife and I had been on the Chartres pilgrimage a few times with the Remnant, back in the 90's and 00's, and I was living in England for a few years, and had really connected with Michael Davies during those times. He introduced me to the beauty of the Brompton Oratory and the spirit of the Vendée, and both have greatly influenced the culture of the Three Hearts Pilgrimage as it is today."
"For us, organisers of the Notre-Dame de Chrétienté yearly pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres, it's beautiful and inspiring to see the amazing success of the Three Hearts pilgrimage : over 2000 participants this year, that's impressive. We are very pleased to see other pilgrimages, with daily traditional Latin masses, flourishing in different countries : USA, Argentina, Australia, Spain, etc. This is a testament to the positive spirit of the faithful Catholics, around the world. Instead of 'giving up' in front of so many difficulties and bad news, concerning Life, Family, Education, etc, Catholics want to bring joy, faith, optimism and confidence. I do recommend to all those who wonder about their goal in life to walk, as more and more non-practicing and even non-Catholic persons do here in France, on the roads to Chartres : The Lord has something to tell them!" - Hervé Rolland, VP Notre-Dame de Chrétienté
Lorraine Marie Photography
"Also, something interesting that we've discovered in our conversations with Chartres team that we realized is unique to America:
We found that both the American and the French operations have many similar conundrums or strategies to contend with when planning a pilgrimage, but one thing that is vastly different in America that we struggle with each year is that many pilgrims (Americans) very much want to come on a pilgrimage, and are ready and willing to sign-up to knowingly suffer and sacrifice and be in pain, but a very high majority of them struggle with the concept of not have their cars nearby them or at the campsite at the end of each day. Even though they wouldn’t be driving anywhere, they request multiple scenarios of having a friend or a spouse bring their cars and park them nearby the campsites, just in-case they need something out of it, or want to put something in it, or want to charge phones or c-pap machines, and for many other similar reasons. Some even say they would just want to know that at any given time - they have access to leave if need be. It's interesting, and we have to say, it's been one of the more challenging aspects for people to come to terms with, more than the physicality of the walk. But when you consider the culture, the Europeans don't have that same type of "relationship" with vehicles, but for Americans, giving up access to their vehicle and completely surrendering to be "on pilgrimage" has been harder even than giving wifi and cell phone signal. There are a few of our pilgrims who had been on Chartres or the Camino and are familiar with this concept and don't think anything about leaving their mode of transportation behind, but not many. That tells us, though, how many people from the 48 states that came are completely new to the sacrificial-pilgrimage experience, and that is pretty inspiring to see. Many don't know anything about Chartres at all - they don't know about how beautiful and rewarding it is, nor about the historical significance of what you are doing when embarking on that trek - which means they are simply signing on to go to the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma and do this just for the pure sacrificial elements they sign-up for, and that's something pretty amazing about the American Catholic spirit." Crystal Robinson
"In 2023, we more than doubled the number of clergy that attended from last year." Marcus Robinson
With not enough priests attending, each chapter is led by a chapter leader, when no priest is available, leading them in prayer, as well as a security officer, making sure the Chapter stays, "To The Right" and close behind the chapter in the front. Each chapter this year usually had a medic or two walking with it, and for some chapters had two, with brothers Sean and Liam O'Flaherty the medics walking with St. Benedicts Chapter. Every five chapters had a communication officer on Ham radio, with a roving ham antenna / repeater on ATV wheels.
Lorraine Marie Photography
In the same chapter as the medic brothers, their cousin Hugh O'Flaherty, a distant relative of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican, for the third year walked the pilgrimage trail to the abbey. As has happened in the past, there was also a couple who became engaged right before Benediction the second day, a year after they met on the THP pilgrimage trail in 2022.
"This year, the Gregory the Great Academy schola attended and participated in union with the monks for the first ever polyphony Mass to be said at the abbey, which for those who are familiar with the former Integrated Humanities Program (IHP) that took place at the University of Kansas - this is quite a meaningful, full-circle event. His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke said the Pontifical High Mass, and the Cardinals sermon to all attending was about the Three Hearts of Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph. Overall count at the final Mass was around 2,040-2,050 estimate." - Marcus Robinson
"The following excerpts are from a speech given by His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke after the Three Hearts Pilgrimage, October 16th, 2023. “In 2021, I had a terrible bout with the Covid contagion. Thanks be to God and thanks to many prayers, I survived it and I couldn’t come last year, but finally I made it for the Three Hearts Pilgrimage, a devotion of which I’m very attached. I think it illuminates so much of our faith in goodness and grace.” “I couldn’t have been more impressed than I was yesterday to see these 2000 pilgrims who had walked a difficult path, many of them on their bare feet...pilgrimage is an ancient, ancient form of devotion, probably the most ancient, and it brings powerful graces to come to the abbey, of which I’ve known for many years… and I know of course the Mother Abbey to it, Fontgombault. To see what is happening here in Oklahoma is really quite miraculous - there are many hopeful things in Oklahoma, I must say. I think the abbey is bringing many blessings here, in fact I know it is. “ “I want to say that yesterday’s Mass was a very beautiful Mass, the monks had prepared it so well with the wonderful singing from Gregory the Great Academy, which is all so important for the sacred liturgy.” “I greeted many people outside, and I was just deeply edified by, first of all, that there were people of all ages but especially a lot of young people. I can’t tell you how many of the young men and women that greeted me asked me to pray because they are hearing the call to the priesthood or to the consecrated life - now that is a tremendous grace that is received through the pilgrimage. For that alone, it would be a worthy devotion to propagate.” - His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Ron Lawson Photo
"There are now many Canadians beginning to form chapters for next year's pilgrimage, and talks from some of our supporters in Portugal." - Crystal Robinson
“2024 is our 5 year anniversary. We are challenging families to reach out and invite just one family to come walk the pilgrimage and experience why so many families return each year.” - Marcus Robinson, Director.
The official dates of the 2024 Three Heart Pilgrimage next year will be Thurs Oct. 10th - Saturday Oct 12th, 2024.
"The Three Hearts Pilgrimage welcomes you to join them in 2024 and discover how one can find beauty in great sacrifice!"
Besides the Remnant and Life Site News there was also CatholicVote.com and Oremus Press covering the pilgrimage.
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