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Our Harrisburg Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (HDCCW) “Walk to Bethlehem” journey began on Sunday, October 18. The virtual walk covered 9,946 miles from Harrisburg to Bethlehem with our goal of arriving in time for Christmas. The Walk was a way to feel connected, even though the exercises were done individually. We invited everyone — women, men, children, families and friends — to be part of this journey and suggested ways, physically and spiritually, for all to be included. As we learned, our 93 pilgrims ranged in age from 5 to 85 years of age and represented 17 Parishes and pilgrims from four different states — California, Maryland, New Jersey and Tennessee.

The structure of the Walk permitted pilgrims to join the Walk at any time and to individually choose their exercise. Whether physical or spiritual exercise, pilgrims earned miles for their participation — 1 mile for 20 minutes of physical exercise — 2 miles for 20 minutes of spiritual exercise. They submitted their miles weekly which were added to the group’s total on the mileage counter on the website to track the journey and feel connected as a group.

Weekly devotionals, prayers and questions to ponder were provided on the HDCCW website for the pilgrims who joined the Walk. With great participation and pilgrims’ enthusiasm, we arrived in Bethlehem early which provided an opportunity for us to visit other holy sites in the area through personal photos and commentary provided by Jeanne Warren, a former President of HDCCW who had previously traveled to the Holy Land. Through her photos, we visited the following sites before returning to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve:

* Church of St. Gabriel and Mary’s Well where the Angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary

* Church of the Annunciation

* The Holy Grotto

* Judah, Church of the Visitation and Magnificat plaque

* The Dome of the Rock

* Shepherd’s Field, Chapel at Shepherd’s Field

* Star of Bethlehem

* Nativity Square and Church of the Nativity

At the conclusion of the Walk, we received many comments from pilgrims. Please see a few of their comments below:

“What a wonderful adventure.” “Thank you for doing this.”

“Thank you for this opportunity. It’s probably been my best Advent ever. Have a wonderful Christmas and a better 2021!”

“Thank you for letting me participate.” (from a non-Catholic)

“Everyone in our group seemed to enjoy the journey. A few have already asked if we might do another one during Lent or at some future date. Thanks for all your work on this project. It was lots of fun! Sort of sorry to see it come to an end.”

“Our CCD children were rewarded with class pizza parties to celebrate.” “Thank you for this opportunity. Please keep me informed of any future walks.”

“Thank you to the Walk to Bethlehem program! It’s a great incentive to stay physically and spiritually active.”

Our warmest thanks to all who participated! Hope the new year is full of blessings for you and your families.

We are planning a Lenten Walk. Please watch for details in The Witness and in Parish bulletins.

Additional Resources:                                           Devotionals:

Prayer (Written by Fr. Rodriguez)                   Divine Mercy Chaplet

Fitness Tips                                                               Rosary

Archived Devotionals                                               Novenas

History of St. Andrew Novena                        Christmas Novena

Advent Reflections

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