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“Believe in miracles”: Walk from St. Joseph to Our Lady this May


Courtesy of the Walk to Mary

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 04/22/24

Thousands of pilgrims traveled from 45 states and 3 countries, leading to stories of healing and hope, faith found and love kindled.

Amazingly enough, Wisconsin is home not only to the National Shrine of St. Joseph but also to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion, the only Church-approved Marian apparition site in the United States of America and a popular international pilgrimage destination.

A beautiful devotion has sprung up of walking from the former to the latter shrine, “from Joseph to Mary,” just as the Child Jesus surely walked countless times. 

You can join this growing and popular devotion, the annual “Walk to Mary,” on Saturday, May 4. All of the details, including a schedule of events and FAQ, can be found at


The first Walk to Mary took place in 2013, and you can see the awe-inspiring numbers that attended their 10th anniversary walk last year, as thousands of pilgrims traveled from 45 states and 3 countries.  

But even more awe-inspiring are the stories that have come out of the Walk to Mary, stories of healing and hope, faith found and love kindled. One of our favorites is the story of Joe and Maggie Carrozza, who connected through attending the Walk to Mary and now are married.

 “It definitely felt like Divine Providence” seeing each other on the Walk to Mary, Joe said in an interview with God Sparks. “That was really the beginning of everything.”

You can watch him and Maggie tell their whole love story here:

Meanwhile, Nawal Aleshaki traveled all the way from California to attend the Walk to Mary in 2022. She believes she was healed of cancer after doing the Walk to Mary in 2022, and said her doctor was amazed.

Reports of prayers answered

These are just some of many moving stories to emerge from the past 11 years of the annual pilgrimage. 

To learn more about the pilgrimage, we had the chance to catch up with Fr. Francis Hoffman, popularly known as “Fr. Rocky,” Executive Director of Relevant Radio, who first had the idea for the event. (You can read that story in the pilgrimage’s history.)

“The more you pray, the better things go,” he said. “Believe in miracles. We have a growing list of testimonials of prayers answered: ‘If you want a house, a spouse, a baby, a liver, a deal, some hope…’”

What can someone expect from doing the Walk to Mary? “If they walk all 21 miles they will be tired, sore, and happy, and they will know that God heard their prayers through the intercession of the Blessed Mother.”

There are several shorter options besides the 21-mile trek, including joining at the 14 mile and 7 mile points. 

There is also a shorter 1.7-mile Walk with the Children, designed to accommodate children, families and individuals who would like to participate but are challenged to walk longer distances. Many elderly pilgrims and pilgrims with disabilities participate in the Walk with the Children.

The day also includes a Children’s Mass and multiple options for Masses in the afternoon after completing the pilgrimage.

The mission and heart of the annual pilgrimage is summed up in the official Walk to Mary Prayer:

Dear Father in heaven,
Just as the three Kings journeyed from the East to find Christ;
Just as Jesus, Mary and Joseph travelled by foot from Nazareth to the Temple in Jerusalem;
Just as Peter and James and John hiked up the mountain all day with the Lord;
Just as Christian Pilgrims have trekked across Europe and the Middle East to the Holy Places;
Just as Saint John Paul II voyaged to all mankind to find Christ and bring Christ;
So too we set forth on foot today, starting at the National Shrine of St. Joseph and Walking to Mary, to visit the grounds made holy by Our Lady of Champion, Queen of Heaven, as we commit ourselves to answering her call to “teach the children what they need to know for their salvation.”

May the archangel Raphael accompany us on our pilgrimage, may our guardian angels protect us, and may we know the joy of the presence of God throughout the day as we rejoice in the gift of life and grace in the beauty of your creation. 

Through Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

Always worth a visit

While the Walk to Mary brings thousands to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion once a year, the shrine is available for visits all year. 

Throughout the year, the Shrine provides many ways for people to experience the love of our Blessed Mother – via group or individual pilgrimages, or one of the many events and devotions. 

You can read more about the shrine here or on their website

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