Pilgrim Visits College as Part of 6,000-Mile, Prayerful Journey

Posted: May 7, 2014

A pilgrim, working his way across the United States — and back — paid a visit to Thomas Aquinas College earlier this week.

On July 25, 2013, the Feast of St. James, Mark Byerly left Delaware to begin a journey of prayer, penance, and fasting on behalf of the Church and the world. He will not return until he has visited 150 shrines, one for each Hail Mary in the 15-decade Rosary. For his purposes, Mr. Byerly has defined “shrines” as “churches of perpetual adoration, any shrines of saints, basilicas, monasteries, and mission churches.” He has also included in his itinerary certain Catholic colleges that “represent the kind of renaissance that Catholic education needs.”

Thomas Aquinas marked the first college on Mr. Byerly’s route. He arrived on campus Tuesday morning in time for the 11:30 Mass, toured Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, and then spent two nights as the College’s guest before departing after Mass and lunch on Thursday, with plans to visit several of the California missions next. The College was one of “a select few” campuses Mr. Byerly chose for his visit, institutions “that have been around for a while, that have made it through Vatican II, and have come out shining,” he says. On his return voyage back east, he hopes also to visit Franciscan University of Steubenville and Christendom College.

Before departing on his pilgrimage, Mr. Byerly quit his job as a restaurant manager and sold or gave away all of his worldly possessions. He travels with only a backpack, sleeping bag, telephone, and an iPad for navigation. He has imposed a few “rules” on himself during this time: He will accept alms or rides if offered, but never ask. If necessary, he will beg, but only for food or shelter. When not provided with a place to stay, he sleeps outdoors, oftentimes with the poor on city streets. (For a more detailed account of Mr. Byerly’s expedition, see this story from LifeSiteNews, written by a graduate of the College, Peter Baklinski ’04).

“We are honored that Mr. Byerly considered our campus a worthy stop along his way,” says Jon Daly, the College’s director of admissions. “We join him in his prayers for the Church and the world, and we will keep him in our prayers as he continues on his journey.”