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By Elena Macias

Sister Caridad Sandoval, O.C.D., who ministers at Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert, joined six of her Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles for a trip to San Francisco for the beginning of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.

Joining with thousands at the Golden Gate Bridge, Sr. Sandoval and her fellow Sisters walked the opening stretch the Serra Route to Indianapolis, site of July’s National Eucharistic Congress. She says she and her fellow Sisters felt a call to attend this leg of the pilgrimage because they wanted to answer the Eucharistic Revival’s invitation.

“The Eucharistic Revival is an invitation to encounter our Lord on a deeper level in the Holy Eucharist,” Sr. Sandoval said. “I see it as encountering the hearts of Christ in the Sacred Heart in the Holy Eucharist.Our love and devotion to our Lord in the Holy Eucharist is our love and devotion to Jesus as well because he is truly present. We try to do what the Bishop says, ‘to ignite a fire’ in any way that we can support or participate or promote is a blessing for us to be able to do.”

On May 19, Sr. Sandoval and her fellow sisters attended the Pentecost Mass celebrated by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco. Sr. Sandoval said she loved the liturgy and Archbishop Cordileone’s homily about the pilgrimage.

“The liturgy was so well planned,” Sr. Sandoval said. “The holiness, to the mystery of the Eucharist, just the way the whole liturgy was put together. I thought that it united us, brought us to focus on the Lord. Even the Bishop’s homily was very profound. He reminded us that the pilgrims were there. It was very beautiful, the people going on the pilgrimage received a special blessing. Different religious orders were at the Mass as well, I think it was just beautiful to experience that.”

Followed by the Mass, the Sisters joined a Eucharistic Procession from the Cathedral to St. Dominic Parish, which was about one mile away. This procession was just for the clergy, Religious Orders and members of the Knights of Columbus, while the parishioners took buses to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and waited for the Lord. Although this Eucharistic Procession was shorter in length, Sr. Sandoval enjoyed this walk because this is when she was the closest to the Lord.

“That was such a delight,” Sr. Sandoval said. “To be able to walk so closely with our Lord, in that kind of procession, it was just really beautiful.”

From there Sr. Sandoval and the other religious men and women took arranged buses to the base of the bridge to meet up with the parishioners.

“On the bridge, our community wasn’t quite as close, the Bishop had gotten there a little bit before us and the people were already gathered, so we ended up somewhere in the middle and it turned out to be delightful. People in that section were singing and praying. I had never been on the Golden Gate Bridge, so I looked down a little bit to see what’s down there and out there. It was really windy, maybe the Holy Spirit really blows faith. Occasionally, someone would honk acknowledging what we would say. The Lord took care of us all.”

Once the Sisters finished walking across the bridge, which is about a 30 minute walk, they joined Archbishop Cordileone for Benediction, where Sr. Sandoval was able to see the Eucharist for the first time since the procession from earlier.

“I couldn’t see, but at that part people knelt down and all of a sudden, I was like, ‘oh I can see the Lord,’ then the Bishop gave us a benediction, it was really beautiful,” Sr. Sandoval said.
Sr. Sandoval was glad that she attended and felt it was her own personal Eucharistic Revival.

“It was such a blessing, it was a big blessing,” Sr. Sandoval said. “It’s a reminder for my own little revival that God has so much more to give us, give me.”

After participating in the opening of the pilgrimage, Sr. Sandoval wants to remember those pilgrims making the long journey to the congress in her prayers.

“Their faith is going to deepen, and it will help like the Eucharistic Revival says, ‘ignite that fire,’” Sr. Sandoval said. “I’ll keep them all in prayer and everyone who encounters them and God willing will be able to see them at the [National] Eucharistic Congress when they arrive. What a blessing that will be.”

Elena Macias is the Managing Editor of the Inland Catholic BYTE and El Compás Católico.