Father Francis Hoffman (Father Rocky), Executive Director of Relevant Radio, has been a wonderful ambassador for the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help and a champion of Marian devotion, through Mary to Jesus, at the Shrine. It was Father Rocky who first planted the seeds for the Walk to Mary. It has come to fruition today in the thousands of pilgrims who annually participate in the walking pilgrimage. As such, Father Rocky is a perennial favorite of pilgrims who come to the Walk to Mary to open the month of Mary. When schedules permit, Father joins other pilgrims in the Walk to Mary, and on the first Sunday of May (the day after the Walk to Mary) is the principal celebrant at May Crowning, during the Holy Mass that opens the month of Mary at the Shrine.
Father Rocky’s idea for Walk to Mary was made a reality by a group, led by two local Northeast Wisconsin residents and devout Mary adorers, Tom Schmit and Pat Deprey.
Tom heard Father Rocky’s idea very, very clearly, but thought someone else should act on this idea. Several days later, Tom heard Father Rocky again – this time on Relevant Radio – where Father mentioned his idea about a walking pilgrimage again. Tom listened and continued to ignore. That same day, when trying to find a person’s phone number in his pile of business cards, on the top of the pile Tom saw Father Rocky’s business card. It finally dawned on him the Holy Spirit was telling him to get involved. After talking to Father Rocky and others at Relevant Radio, Tom was put in touch with Pat, who already contacted Relevant Radio about the idea. The fulfillment from being involved with the Walk to Mary is great for Tom, and God’s love is overwhelming. Tom’s glad God gave him a few chances to get the message and to say “yes”, just like Mary did.
Pat has made several pilgrimages to Marian apparition sites around the world – Fatima, Lourdes and Medjugorje. He personally experienced the powerful spiritual impact, conversion and lasting joy these pilgrimages have on individuals. Pat quickly realized the importance of Father Rocky’s idea – which is why it didn’t take him long to contact Relevant Radio to see if any others felt the same way. The pilgrimages he’s gone on to Marian apparition sites were without a doubt what helped bring Pat closer to Jesus through Mary. He now wants to give the opportunity to others to experience the same thing.
Over the years the Walk to Mary pilgrimage has grown from a handful of devotees to thousands of Pilgrims from all over the world. Many languages can be heard along the way, but a common mission is shared through spiritual belief and a unified love for Joseph, Mary and Jesus.
The power of Mary has called and healed many Pilgrims over the years. From guidance with life-changing decisions to curing disabilities and diseases, Mary welcomes all prayers and requests as a mother to us all.