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Catholic Charities Corporation Administrative Offices:

7911 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102

(216) 334-2900

Diocesan Social Action Office: Pilgrimage for Justice 2024

Posted July 08, 2024

Photos from this trip can be viewed here.

For over 50 years, the Diocesan Social Action Office (DSAO) has worked to uphold the human dignity of all people, especially those seen as the least, the lost, and the left behind.

Last month, the DSAO team led their first Pilgrimage for Justice (PFJ) to travel, learn, reflect, pray, and grow while rediscovering Civil Rights history.

The week-long trip began at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The museum hopes to, “promote social justice for all, building on the principles of the Underground Railroad.”

Of all the exhibits shown in the museum, there was one that stood out to one of the attendees.

“One of the segments that resonated with me most was the narratives of some of the slaves,” PFJ attendee Dionne Carmichael said.

Learning about what some slaves had to witness firsthand took a toll on Dionne.

“Thinking about what they [the slaves] experienced firsthand made us more aware,” Dionne said, “You could feel the will of the people that were running away, trying to come to freedom, trying to have justice and equality…”

The next day attendees traveled from Cincinnati to the St. Bernard Benedictine Abbey in Alabama.

On the third day, participants made their way to Atlanta to visit "Sweet Auburn" Avenue & MLK National Historical Park and Visitor Center, the birth home of MLK, Jr., Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the gravesites of Martin & Coretta Scott King.

“He [MLK Jr.] saw the differences in how people live and how he afforded certain privileges that other people next door to him didn’t have.” PFJ attendee and Chief Program Officer Fredy Robles said.

The next stop on the PFJ trip was to visit Selma, Alabama’s National Voting Rights Museum & Institute and Footprints of Freedom Tour.

Part of the walking tour included walking across Edmund Pettus Bridge which is where the Bloody Sunday beatings took place as civil rights marchers walked for voting rights.

For one of the attendees, this was the reason she signed up for this pilgrimage.

“I signed up for this trip because of today.” Participant Mary Sybil-Kress said, “When I was in fifth grade, I saw in the news, the march…I have wanted to be on that bridge and follow that walk.”

Day 5 of the PFJ trip brought attendees to the National Memorial for Peace & Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

The memorial holds the memories of more than 4,400 African American people killed between 1877 and 1950. The memorial carved each person's name on 800 corten steel monuments across the six-acre site.

“It was overwhelming in terms of the torture and the misperception of crime and bias and discrimination against people of color,” Attendee Sister Carol Pelegrin said.

According to their website, the National Memorial for Peace & Justice is “the nation’s first comprehensive memorial dedicated to the legacy of Black Americans who were enslaved, terrorized, humiliated, and presumed guilty and dangerous.”

On the journey back to Cleveland, the PFJ attendees made one more stop at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

This institute focuses on providing cultural and educational research to visitors about the civil rights development in Birmingham.

This 6-day pilgrimage allowed participants and attendees to travel, learn, and grow after rediscovering Civil Rights history.

Led by DSAO, attendees were able to see what the Civil Rights Movement achieved and the nonviolent methods that were taking place during this time.

Are you or someone you know interested in learning more about the Diocesan Social Action Office? Click the buttons below to see what the office is working on, view photos, and a video from the trip!

Special note: Thank you to Madison and Charlene Maynard for capturing the pilgrimage through photo and video, allowing us to share this wonderful experience.

Diocesan Social Action Office Pilgrimage for Justice Photos Pilgrimage for Justice Video

Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Part of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

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