Saturday, April 07, 2007

David Heimann: The Blogging Pilgrim

While hopefully all Catholics make the spiritual Way of the Cross journey with Christ during Lent, Chicagoan David Heimann (pictured on left with Father Francis Xavier Zhang in China) has clearly taken this idea one step further. Heimann, 32, a former youth minister with a Master's Degree in Divinity, has set out on a pilgrimage which aspires to attend Mass in 365 churches in 365 days—and not just in this country, but in nearly every continent.

It was two years ago when Heimann, still a student at Loyola University in Chicago, had a dream that he was to follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius by making a Christian pilgrimage around the world. Unsure if this vision was from the Holy Spirit or just his imagination, David consulted with his spiritual director, Rev. John Haughey, a Jesuit at Loyola (now at Georgetown University). Fr. John told him to be patient, so Heimann completed his degree from Loyola, and took a job as youth minister at (wouldn't you know it) Rodgers Park's St. Ignatius Parish—but still the dream persisted. Finally, Haughey, seeing Heimann's determination, told him to go for it.

After raising money not only from Catholics but from Protestant denominations such as the mega-church, Willow Creek, Heimann set forth in February armed with a traveling bag, a letter of introduction from Cardinal Francis George (who called the pilgrimage "honest and noble") and the intent of promoting worldwide understanding and solidarity among Catholics. Dave's highlights already include a Mass filled with hard-luck gamblers at Guardian Angel Cathedral in Vegas, a liturgy in an underground parish with the persecuted Catholics in China, and services with the pope on Good Friday and plans to attend St. Peter's on Easter.

Meanwhile, Heimann keeps the faithful back home informed on his blog, adsodalitatem (it's Latin for "toward solidarity") and plans to continue his journey with Masses in Jerusalem on Pentecost, and in Mexico on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Certainly Heimann's statement "Solidarity means when one member of the Church suffers we all suffer ... it means I have to be concerned with genocide in Rwanda and suppression of Christians in Vietnam or China" is exemplary, and if his trip helps him and others to understand the universality of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, it will be worth it. Unfortunately David's comments such as "Solidarity means more than right for life for the unborn," betrays the tainted vision of many modern Jesuits (read America or Commonweal lately?) that Orthodox Catholicism and social justice are somehow mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, such a pilgrimage, especially centered on the Catholic Mass, has the capacity to open Dave's eyes on this issue too.

As for ourselves, Heimann's trip should remind us of the metaphorical pilgrimage each Catholic life must take. As a married man, it is unlikely I will ever be called to as comprehensive of a traveling itinerary as David, but as a fellow blogger, I share his discouragement of feast days when I feel too fatigued to write, and other days where single digit blog visitors leaves me wondering if I am getting through and should continue to "write on."

But we all have our moments, so the key thing to remember is we each must make frequent pilgrimages to Mass, for it is "Our Daily Bread" that gives us the strength to carry on. Happy Easter, David, and Godspeed on the rest of your journey! Maybe you can offer up a Mass for us at Fighting Irish Thomas when you reach the graced green shores of Ireland ...


Pristinus Sapienter said...

Among your blog visitors, I count for two - physically HUGE and I am ambidextrous - able to eat with both hands - and with or without utensils. This can cause children to marvel and adults to cringe. Though, both may be giggling at the event.

Kidding aside, this is a very challenging adventure for a young person. I hope he intends to write more than a blog about it since he is doing what St. Ignatius thought a useful journey and focused pilgrimage about the Mass.

(BTW, the link to his blog 404'd. And, while we're on tech issues, why do I have to enter two verification values each time?)

Tom O'Toole said...

Pristinus Sapienter - Thanks for your comments. Good ideas for links; I'm working on them. Unfortunately my 70s LaSallian education was during the "balloons & banners" era of feel good theology, although a few good Brothers survived the times. Happy Easter; see you Tuesday. -Tom