History and background
Typically the first week of June.
Fr. Edmund Savilla
Church of the Ascension
2150 Raymac Road SW
Albuquerque, NM 87105
Deacon Donald Martinez
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
205 Don Fernando Street
Taos, NM 87571
1. Individuals must be at least 13 years of age to participate in the pilgrimage. They must complete an application for registration. These are due to Area Leaders by the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, each year for the following year.
2. All applications must be signed and applicants attend a minimum of three mandatory meetings for the June pilgrimage. This is in addition to any local meetings held in your communities.
100-Mile Pilgrimage for Vocations
In 1973 Father Michael O'Brien from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe started the 100-Mile Pilgrimage for Vocations. Those taking part would pray and sacrifice for God's will in all vocations especially priesthood and religious life. This Pilgrimage has continued to take place during the first week in June. It takes one week to complete the Pilgrimage of 100 miles, walking about 20 miles each day. The groups sleep in parish halls or school gyms located on the way to Chimayo. Church organizations or families provide meals for the pilgrims.
Until 1981 only men participated in the Pilgrimage. That year women were invited to participate. Now women make up two of the five routes that comprise the Annual Pilgrimage for Vocations. All pilgrims begin their walk on Monday morning and on Saturday the groups meet at El Santuario for a Mass celebrated by the Archbishop.
In a small valley in 1972 the Spirit of God touched a small group of men who began a spiritual journey that continues today. Father Michael O’Brien, pastor in the village of Estancia, had promised a fishing trip to young men who had helped him paint the church. When he asked them where they wanted to go, Rosendo Barela, Jr., responded, “to Chimayo”. Fr. Mike asked how they were going to get there. The response was “walking.” The young men reacted with enthusiasm, even though it was over 100 miles. That was the simple beginning of the journey.
In 1973, the first year of the pilgrimage, forty men, young and old, from the Catholic churches of the Estancia Valley and Mountainair set out to walk. These “peregrinos” experienced hot, dusty, sweaty, confused and exhausting days. There were tears of joy at the arrival in Chimayo.
In 1974, the second pilgrimage was a tremendous success. The answer to many prayers was a confirmation that the walk for vocations was on the right road. A new archbishop was named, Robert F. Sanchez.
In 1975, the third year, a theme song was composed for pilgrimage. The first theme was “Christ - Alive and Walking”.; T-Shirts came into the picture. The first group from Taos Valley began to walk to Chimayo.
1976, saw the largest group to date - 176. It was the bi-centennial of the nation and, in New Mexico the 350th anniversary of La Conquistadora, also known as Santa Maria de la Paz. She was honored at the opening and closing masses. It was the first year a staff was formed (leadership positions) and the first year a staff retreat was conducted. The theme was “Christ is the first step of the rest of your life.”
1977 saw the first northern pilgrimage for vocations. The route was from Ranchos de Taos to Chimayo, via the Rio Grande and Espanola. The theme was “Walking by Faith for a better tomorrow.”
In 1978 the second northern pilgrimage took place, this time from Costilla to Chimayo via the High Road to Taos. The first encuentro in the history of the pilgrimage took place in Costilla with people from the villages of Costilla and Cerro at 5:00 A.M. The theme was “Christ is the Stairway to Heaven.”
1979 was the seventh annual pilgrimage to Chimayo. It was a growing year. This was the year the Guadalupanas began to participate at encouragement of Fr. Luis Jaramillo and under the direction of Sr. Rosina Sandoval. The first official photographer was Vicente Martinez. The theme was “Caminando Unidos Para Hacernos Uno” (Walking United to Become One).