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From Rome to Jerusalem: A Co-worker’s Pilgrimage with Christ
Co-worker Katie Torvinen reflects on the crowning grace of her co-worker year: the pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem.

Katie Torvinen was a co-worker during the 2007-2008 year.
Katie Torvinen was a co-worker during the 2007-2008 year.

May 22, 2008. Greenville, RI. Originally from Carson City, Nevada, Katie Torvinen is a 2007 graduate of Hillsdale College with a degree in International Studies in Business and Foreign Language (French). During the 2007-2008 school year, she served as a coworker in Greenville, Rhode Island. In her mission, she worked with the Regnum Christi young women’s section of in New England and also travelled to Quebec, Canada to help in Challenge girls’ summer camps.

Her co-worker year put her into close contact with university students and young professionals in the New England area as she worked alongside the consecrated women to give retreats and lecture series and help organize national conventions. One of these conventions, the “Big Apple Mission,” included the memorable experience of seeing and hearing the Pope at the youth rally and Yankee Stadium Mass in New York City this April.

In the following testimony, Katie shares a mountaintop experience of her co-worker year: the annual co-worker pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem.

Walking His Path
By Katie Torvinen

Ask pretty much any co-worker, and you’ll soon discover we all have
A view of the Coliseum by night.
A view of the Coliseum by night.
our stories of the almost-miraculous circumstances that brought us to where we are today. Some of the stories make your jaw drop. Others are less shocking but no less incredible because they show God’s grace quietly at work in a soul, unraveling His plan in a way you can see only when looking back.

Mine is one of those: I contently walked down the path laid before me, not knowing why until I looked back and could see who had marked it out for me from the beginning. When I turned to look forward again, Christ had placed me at the foot of a mountain and made my path head straight up. But now I could see Him. He was standing beside me and was willing to go before me when I needed Him to, so I was ready to start the climb. I’m sure my life will be a climb up not only one mountain but an entire mountain range. But in any case, Christ brought me to a summit during this year as a coworker, and the view from the top was exactly what He saw while He walked this earth: the Holy Land.

Without a doubt, this was the crowning jewel of the year’s graces.

First Stop: All Roads Lead to Rome

The pilgrimage began with fellow co-workers flying in from all over the world to converge on Rome, the heart of the Church for the first part of the
Pope Benedict XVI during the Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Benedict XVI during the Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square.
“International Coworker Encounter.”

In Rome we encountered the Church in all of her glory. Two cardinals blessed us with visits, giving us conferences and even staying for lunch: Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI; and Cardinal Castrillon, the president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”. The auditorium was full of excitement to welcome these two princes of the Church. We wanted to show Cardinal Sodano and Cardinal Castrillon how much we truly love the Church so they could take our love back with them to the Holy Father. But after hearing them speak, I think it was we who had our hearts touched by these men who are so deeply in love with Christ and have given their lives to fight for His Bride.

In the midst of breathtaking churches and gelato shops on almost every corner, we focused our visit to the Eternal City on the Wednesday audience with Pope Benedict XVI. An early wake-up call got us to St. Peter’s Square hours before the Holy Father was scheduled to appear. So, in true co-worker spirit, we filled the square with cheers for Pope Benedict in several languages and quickly made friends with the other pilgrims sitting near us. The unity and universality of the Church were living in St.
Our lodging place in Jerusalem: the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.
Our lodging place in Jerusalem: the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.
Peter’s that day, as it does at every papal audience. Where else can you make friends with Italians and Spaniards by yelling and singing in English? At 10:30 sharp (Pope Benedict is very punctual), the Holy Father entered the square to cheering crowds, flashing cameras, and waving flags. The joy and love of God was so visible on his face that you can’t help but be excited to see him!

Next Stop: The Holy Land

After our convention in Rome, we prepared for our next journey: Tel Aviv, Israel. Christ was with us every step of the way, even during layovers in the Milan and Rome airports, which have chapels where many of us were able to make visits to the Eucharist or even happen upon a Mass.

Once our plane landed in the Tel Aviv airport, we knew right away we
A united group, we prayed and sang our way through the holy places.
A united group, we prayed and sang our way through the holy places.
“weren’t in Kansas anymore.” All the signs were in Hebrew… but thank goodness they use the same recognizable stick figures for the signs on the bathrooms! From Tel Aviv, we drove to Jerusalem where we would stay for the next six days at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.

The Legionaries and consecrated women stationed in Jerusalem welcomed us and did their best to make a bunch of tired and hungry girls feel at home. Once we got some rest, we went into the city for lunch. An authentic Palestinian meal was waiting for us at the restaurant, as was Habib, the first Palestinian member of Regnum Christi (he incorporated into the Movement this past summer at the Youth and Family Encounter in Atlanta).

During the following days, we visited holy place after holy place. Now it was my turn to walk each step with Christ, living the mysteries of His life in the places where He lived. We began in Ain Karim, the place of the Visitation, and Bethlehem,
In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, touching a piece of the pillar on which Jesus was scourged.
In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, touching a piece of the pillar on which Jesus was scourged.
“the place where Love was born” as Ramzi, our guide and a resident of Bethlehem, put it. We felt that Our Lady was very close to us in Ain Karim as we prayed the rosary all together in the place where her soul proclaimed the greatness of the Lord.

In Bethlehem we celebrated Christmas. The liturgy of the Masses said at the holy sites is the liturgy of that place in the Gospels, so in Bethlehem, we went to Christmas Mass. To add to the beauty of it all, after Mass, Monica Treviño, our director and a veteran Holy Land pilgrim, brought a life-size figure of baby Jesus, and our chaplain, Fr. Joseph Brickner, LC, held Him up as we all came up and gave the holy Baby a kiss.

Every day was packed with visits, but we didn’t just visit these holy places. In each place we tried to take everything in. We would gather around our guide or one of the consecrated women who was with us and listen to an explanation of its history and significance. Then we would reflect on the Gospels, the narrations of what took place there. Each place we visited breathed new life into the Gospels. Now when I open my Bible or listen to the readings at Mass, I can see it all again in my memory.

The Gospel reflection was followed by time to pray, and then we all sang a hymn or a song. Singing all together was one of
Touching the rock of Calvary under the altar in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Touching the rock of Calvary under the altar in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
my favorite parts of the pilgrimage. It truly was like praying twice, as St. Augustine tells us, and I felt so unified with the other co-workers. As it happened, our singing was also a powerful testimony to the other groups of pilgrims.

In Jerusalem, we walked through each step of Christ’s Passion with Him, from His condemnation by Pilot (the Church of Ecce Homo), to His dying on the cross and being laid in the tomb (the rock of Calvary and Christ’s tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher), including retracing the Way of the Cross through the narrow and busy streets of the city (the Via Dolorosa). Christ showed me at each step that, while Love was born in Bethlehem, it was in Jerusalem that He suffered and died, and all for me.

The intensity of Jerusalem was followed by the peace of Galilee, where Christ lived and preached. Visiting places like Nazareth, Capernaum, and Cana, I felt like I was living the Gospel where the angel tells Mary Magdalene at the tomb, “Then go quickly and tell his disciples the he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him” (Mt 28:7). Christ, the triumphant Christ of Easter whom I had just witnessed defeat death in Jerusalem, was showing me the land in which He lived.

Our last day in the Holy Land was spent in a retreat on the Mount of the Beatitudes, which overlooks the Sea
The co-workers share a time of prayer on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
The co-workers share a time of prayer on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
of Galilee. We had all day to spend in prayer in silence with Christ, to take a spiritual breath and let everything sink in.

Meditating on the Beatitudes in the place where Christ gave them to us, a few simple questions came to my mind, and in my heart Christ spoke a few simple answers: Lord, you have given me so much just in this year as a coworker. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of these gifts and opportunities; for the generosity, sacrifice, and love of everyone who helped me come here to meet you; for all of your love and grace. But why me, Lord? Why am I so special? What have I done to deserve all this? What can I do to return so much love?

Why you? Because I love you, Katie. You are this special to me, not because of what you’ve done or what you may deserve, but because I love you. And in my love for you, I chose you to help me fulfill the mission that I started while I lived here on this earth. There are so many people whom I love and they don’t even know it. I need you to help me share this love. In your family, with your friends, and with everyone you meet, live out the love I’ve shown you, and help them find me.



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