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Pilgrimage Buses Depart for Washington

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Hundreds of faithful left North Carolina early this morning to make their Pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Washington, DC. This is the second pilgrimage Bishop Michael F. Burbidge has led from the Diocese of Raleigh. In a letter to the faithful, he wrote, “With our nation and our Diocese dedicated to Our Blessed Mother under this title, it is only fitting that we make this pilgrimage to Her National Shrine.”

Seven full buses left the Diocese this morning from the Raleigh, Fayetteville, Cape Fear, Tar River and Piedmont Deaneries. Eight more bus loads of pilgrims are expected to leave Saturday, April 2. Spanish speaking members of various parishes will fill five of the fifteen buses. Some of the Saturday pilgrims will depart as early as 4:00 a.m. in order to attend the events at the Basilica. Pilgrimage organizers estimate that more than 1,000 Diocesan faithful will make the pilgrimage this weekend.

The faithful will arrive at the Shrine Saturday morning. Bishop Burbidge will offer a welcome and Morning Prayer at 10:00 a.m., followed by the Tour of Faith, a special orientation combined with a guided tour of the Shrine. The afternoon will offer participants Holy Hour and private devotion time. Bishop Burbidge will celebrate the Diocesan Pilgrimage Mass at 3:00pm.

This morning, as a bus prepared to leave from St. Raphael Church in Raleigh, pilgrims expressed their enthusiasm for the journey. “I have been to the Basilica several times,” said Jean Carbone of Our Lady of Lourdes. “I really wanted to make this pilgrimage with my daughter.”

Bishop Burbidge, looking forward to the trip, said, “The Pilgrimage will be a witness to our faith as we gather around the Shrine of Our Blessed Lady and pray together for our Diocese, for our nation and for peace.”

Above: A pilgrimage bus prepares to leave St. Raphael Church in Raleigh on Friday morning.