The 40th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s relationship with its sister parish, La Sagrada Familia in the Dominican Republic, is being celebrated with a special pilgrimage scheduled for October.

Members of the public are invited to join Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki on the eight-day pilgrimage, which commences Oct. 11. The cost is $2,000 per person, an estimated rate that includes lodging, meals and transportation.

The pilgrimage will be “an opportunity to renew the commitments and the covenant” between the Archdiocese and La Sagrada Familia, said Antoinette Mensah, director of the Archdiocesan World Mission Ministries – Office for World Mission and Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

Attendees will become acquainted with the communities served by La Sagrada Familia, and the ways in which the Archdiocese of Milwaukee supports them.

Pilgrims will get to “connect and encounter people, identify with them and determine what is pulling your faith, what is helping you to see Jesus in the people you connect with.”

Attendees need not speak Spanish, said Mensah.

“For those who do not speak Spanish, it will be an opportunity to see ‘how your faith comes alive without the language,’” she said. “You just have to come with an open heart and a desire to encounter God’s people. Mission is about being, not doing. If you are that image of Christ, whatever you have to do will flow from that.”

The Office for World Mission has facilitated the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s relationship with La Sagrada Familia since 1981. The parish is located in the province of Azua, in the Dominican Republic’s southwest region, and serves 30,000 people living in 22 towns and villages. It is based in the town of Sabana Yegua, where its main church, offices and parish hall are located. Current pastors Fr. Javier Guativa of the Community of St. Paul and Fr. Thomas Naidu, along with their staff, provide for the spiritual needs of the parishioners as well as working to meet their material needs.

“Every year I go, I see something new,” said Mensah, who has made eight previous visits to the parish. “Some of the people who were youngsters (at the time of the initial partnership) are now leaders in the community. We have one young man from the community who is studying for the priesthood here at the seminary. There has been a lot of change and a lot of growth.”

While in the Dominican Republic, pilgrims will lodge at a guest house and convent, in addition to a stay at a hotel. There is an option for a two-day retreat add-on for an additional $200.

A non-refundable deposit of $400 is due by Aug. 15. If there is a challenge in bearing the cost, applicants are asked to contact the archdiocese.

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