Fr. Jordan Berghouse (from left), Fr. James Lobacz and Fr. Jonathon Schmeckel went on a pilgrimage to eight churches in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee dedicated to St. Joseph, on Oct. 18. (Submitted photo)

Three priests from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee went on a pilgrimage Monday, Oct. 18, to the eight churches dedicated to St. Joseph in southeastern Wisconsin.

Fr. Jordan Berghouse, Fr. James Lobacz and Fr. Jonathon Schmeckel left St. Monica Church that morning and visited churches in Grafton, St. Cloud, Waupun, Wauwatosa, Waukesha, Big Bend, Lyons and Racine. The plan was to visit each church and pray the Litany of St. Joseph and to do all eight churches in a single day.

The priests each had a particular task.  While in motion, Fr. Lobacz was calling each parish to gain access to the churches.  It was assumed that many of them might be locked.  He was hoping to open the doors of the pilgrimage.  After all, this was being done “on the seat of the pants.”

“It was a magnificent fall day with bright sunshine and crisp air,” Fr. Lobacz said. “We traveled on interstates and country lanes.  Some churches were quite modern while others had not been touched much by the procession of time. I enjoyed the way in which each of us contributed to the pilgrimage in a different way.  Scheduling priestly fraternity is a real challenge, especially given the lives priests live today.  My heart was very much enriched by spending a day, speeding across the archdiocese, with two brothers, making prayerful stops at these churches.  I was really tired by the time we made the last stop in Racine, but very happy to have made this pilgrimage.”

Fr. Schmeckel was the navigator.  With the help of a maps program on his phone, he guided the priests from one church to the next.  He also helped estimate the time of arrival at the different churches that Fr. Lobacz communicated to the church secretaries.

“As we stopped at all of the churches who shared Joseph’s name, I was struck by how many are tucked away, almost hidden, in little corners through the archdiocese,” Fr. Schmeckel said. “A lot of these parishes are also quite old, many over 100 years. I think of the families who sacrificed greatly to build these churches in these little towns and cities. They were just good people who worked and prayed diligently every day, and worked and prayed at their local church — and still do to this day.  In the end, these people live up to their patron, St. Joseph: working and praying quietly, often without a lot of recognition or fame, just like St. Joseph.  And like Joseph, we do what God asks of us, and we trust that God will provide the rest.  Each of the churches was a visible reminder to be faithful to what God asks of me, trusting that he will provide the rest — and to turn to Joseph in all of the things of daily life.”

And lastly, but very importantly, Fr. Berghouse was the driver.

“As we began this pilgrimage, we didn’t quite know how everything would unfold,” Fr. Berghouse said. “We knew where we wanted to go but we didn’t know if we’d be successful. Perhaps some of the churches would be closed. Perhaps we wouldn’t have enough time. But we knew the Lord was inviting us to trust him. By the end, after having visited all eight churches in one day, it was a reminder to always have the trust of St. Joseph, who knew where God wanted him to go, responded in faith, and trusted that he would provide along the way.”