A quintet of county Catholic women recently made a 1,062-mile pilgrimage to bask in the serenity of sacred places and deepen their faith.
Jackie Palic, of Marion, had contemplated a journey to Iowa destinations, Trinity Heights and the Grotto of the Redemption, for a year before she invited Marion friends and Holy Family Parish congregation members Denice Bina, Cindy Vinduska, Rose Vinduska, and Laurie Holub to join in the spiritual adventure.
“I wanted to make a pilgrimage to see beautiful things, places, and works of art that were inspired by God,” Palic said. “None of my boys wanted to go, so I figured lets fill up the minivan. The more the merrier. It’s nice to have people to share your experience with.”
The faithful five set off Sunday July 10 to try to catch Mass at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln, Nebraska, after Father Darrin May blessed their holy road trip.
“I really enjoyed the camaraderie and fellowship with the ladies who are as in love with the Lord as I am,” Holub.
In the minivan, they prayed the Rosary, rocked out to devotional songs of praise and worship, and listened to faith orator talks.
“We giggled a lot,” Bina said.
“And there was a lot of sharing,” Palic added. “We learned about each other’s faith journeys.”
“Each of us had a difference experience on the same journey,” Rose Vinduska said.
They also experienced the first of a few “little miracles” they experienced on the trip.
“We thought we were going to get there late but for some reason we flew a little faster than we thought,” Bina said. “We were blessed to get there for Mass.”
They joked that the minivan ran on holy water.
On a walk at Creighton University in Omaha, they experienced what they called another little miracle.
They noticed the elegant steeples of St. John’s Parish, and decided to investigate despite the steep incline of the hill it rests on.
“It was long after the time when Catholic churches close,” Cindy Vinduska said, “but the lights were on in the chapel.”
They were overwhelmed when they entered the church.
“There were 165 seminarians chanting the night prayer,” Palic said. “They were chanting, praying the psalms, from one side to the other.”
The sound reverberated throughout the church walls and echoed throughout the travelers’ souls.
“The sound of all these young men chanting just gave us all goose bumps,” Cindy Vinduska said. “It sounded beautiful.”
Along the way, the group also discovered “Mercy, Live Up” shirts. They called themselves the “Mercy Sisters” in honor of this year’s “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy,” which is a Roman Catholic period of prayer for remission of sins and universal pardon.
It also afforded the Mercy Sisters chances to pass through holy doors in a symbolic passage from sin to grace at multiple cathedrals and historical churches on their pilgrimage through Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa.
“Holy doors are always closed except for on specific years,” Bina said. “We wanted to see all the holy doors that we could.”
As they traveled, Bina said she had a vision of their five guardian angels sitting on top of the minivan watching over them as they cruised down the highway.
“I felt the real presence of the Lord guarding and protecting us throughout our whole journey,” Holub said.
They also attended Mass at a number of churches along the way.
“I think we all loved the stained glass and the history of the places we saw,” Rose Vinduska said. The colors of the stained glass were so vibrant, and the art lets you know you are in the presence of God.”
A life-sized woodcarving of the Last Supper inside the St. Joseph Center left a different impression.
“It’s something you can’t describe; you just have to see it,” Cindy Vinduska said. “You wonder, ‘what are they thinking?’
“Seeing Judas holding a money bag was really creepy. He looks right at you. It’s like his eyes are following you.”
A final little miracle happened after they left Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa, a maze of elaborate stonework.
“I had set my billfold on the bumper of the van and forgot it there,” Palic said. “It could have fallen off anywhere on the road, but it made it all the way to Kansas City, where I found it.”
The general consensus was that their trip was a success, and the Mercy Sisters are already planning another pilgrimage for next summer.