A Field Trip Experience

In 2017, a small Catholic school in Minnetonka, Minnesota, Notre Dame Academy began their first annual Walk to Mary pilgrimage. Little did they know a new annual spiritual tradition for their graduating 8th grade class was born.

Notre Dame Academy is a 250 student regional Catholic school in the West Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area of Minnetonka, MN.  Continually guided by the spiritual example of Our Lady, their mission is to provide Pre-K – 8th grade students a Christ centered and innovative learning environment to grow spiritually and academically.

The Spiritual Benefit
Our Pilgrimage Example

Parents often report an increase in their child’s prayer life.

Parents often report an increase in their child’s prayer life.

The Organizer

Ms. Jeanne Sharp

Ms. Jeanne Sharp has been teaching in Catholic schools for eighteen years. Since 2012 at Notre Dame Academy Ms. Sharp has taught Math and Religion. Ms. Sharp is the organizer of the 8th Grade annual pilgrimage to the Walk to Mary and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.

She is willing to be used as a resource for schools organizing their first pilgrimage. For answers to your questions email her at jsharp@nda-mn.org.

I was teaching the 7th graders about the Marian Apparition sites throughout the world. When I mentioned that the only Marian Apparition in the United States, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, was in Wisconsin, a boy named Dominic shot his hand up to ask, “May we go there?”  Remembering what Our Lady of Good Help said about teaching the children, I couldn’t say no.  When I asked and got the support of our school and parents the annual Pilgrimage to the Walk to Mary and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help was born.

Jeanne Sharp, Notre Dame Academy, MN

The Pilgrimage

Now our school, Notre Dame Academy, makes the Pilgrimage our 8th grade class trip.  With every class of 25 students we get about 16 parents joining the trip.  Fr. John serves as the pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church and he comes along too.  It is a beautiful, spiritual journey we take together.

Spiritual Benefit

We prepare for the pilgrimage by doing presentations on all the Marian Apparition sites in the world. The first thing the kids notice when doing the research is that Mary is often speaking directly to children. We also do a novena to Our Lady of Good Help in preparation for the trip. We even learn about indulgences (as a plenary indulgence is available to pilgrims visiting national shrines).

After our trip, which includes prayer, Mass, confession, adoration, communal meals, the walk, and playtime, the students write a reflection of how they were affected by the pilgrimage. It is when the students write their reflection that I appreciate the reason we continue to go on this pilgrimage every year.

Every child is touched spiritually by this trip.  God speaks to each one.  Parents often report an increase in their child’s prayer life.  A highlight for our pilgrims is they collect prayers from other students (the entire school) and pray these prayers on holy ground.  Seeing kids go silent and pray when they enter the Oratory at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is all I need to know that the pilgrimage is a success.  Mary, Our Lady, is smiling.

“I really enjoyed taking quiet time to just pray. It was very relaxing and felt very peaceful and like it was just God, Mary, and me.”

Ella S., gr. 8

“I felt moved to pray the rosary. Then I prayed another rosary on the Rosary Walk. So I prayed the rosary two times in the same day.”

Steve T., gr. 8

“I think it’s crazy how we went to a place where the one and only Mary stood–Mary who had Jesus. I liked praying in a spot where Mary stood.”

Jack B., gr. 8

“During the pilgrimage, I felt like I connected with God more than ever.”

Emma A., gr. 8

“I feel I grew spiritually during the trip because I always pray before bed but not anytime else. It felt good to pray in the morning and to know that all day God, Mary, and Jesus are watching over you.”

Lani H., gr. 8

“I understand Mary’s reason for showing herself. She wants the world to pray and she wants everyone to know about her Son.”

Taylor, gr. 8

Take advantage of the opportunities to raise money for your school – in previous years, some schools have raised up to $10,000 for their school by participating in the Walk to Mary. We welcome schools and youth groups to participate in the pilgrimage as it directly promotes the message of Mary. For your convenience, we have the printed materials, examples, and information available to make it a turn-key endeavor.

See Fundraising Resources

Walk to Mary MAY 1, 2021

Walk to Mary
MAY 1, 2021