Pre-Freshman Pilgrimage Unites the Class of 2022
As graduating seniors celebrated the end of their Jesuit careers, Blue Jay pre-freshmen bonded as they transitioned into “rising freshmen.”
From May 25-28, members of the Class of 2022 enjoyed the end of their 8th grade year at the Pilgrimage to The Catholic Missions of San Antonio, Texas. The spiritual and fraternal touchstone of Jesuit student life is always full of prayer, culture, and fun — a 72-hour adrenaline-fueled taste of finding God in all things.
The charter bus came to its first stop in Grand Coteau, La., where Mass was celebrated in St. Charles Borromeo Church. Daily Mass is the binding element of the pilgrimage, connecting the students to each other in Christ and giving continuity to each day they spend together. After Mass, faculty chaperones led by student activities director Matt Orillion ’98 guided the students on a tour of the novitiate. Ancient oaks shaded the young pilgrims as they toured the old and new cemeteries, the Marian grotto, and the recently refurbished novitiate building.
Some hours later, San Antonio came into view as the buses rolled along the West Texas hills. After a meal at Rita’s on the River, the group strolled along the River Walk and up to the Alamo. Later still, having arrived at Antonian Prep and engaged in diverse athletic contests, the young Jays dropped off to sleep.
The electric buzz and glare of gym lights woke the pilgrims early in the next morning. Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Jesuit church beautifully decorated in accordance with San Antonio’s Latin American heritage. The buses then embarked for Schlitterbahn, where the Jays reveled in the delights of the Lazy River, the Master Blaster, and the Vortex of Fun. These several hours of watery exhilaration then yielded to the competitive experience of Dave and Buster’s, where Tex-Mex-infused pilgrims strove for excellence and prizes.
On the third day, the group returned to downtown San Antonio for Mass at San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest continuously functioning religious community in Texas. Founded in 1731 at the center of the city, the cathedral epitomizes the community’s character and culture.
After Mass, the pilgrims returned to the Alamo, where they were treated to a lecture on that memorable mission’s history, and then proceeded to Mission San Juan, bringing the journey to its spiritual climax. Following a barbecue lunch near Mission Concepción, the time had come for Six Flags, where roller coasters, cartoons, food, and fireworks brought the pilgrimage to its conclusion. The group returned to the buses and rode home through the night into the New Orleans morning.
Eighth-graders learn early in their Jesuit career of St. Ignatius and his vision of the Trinity which granted him the grace of seeing God in all things. That Ignatian vision is evident during the events of the 8th-grade pilgrimage, where all things — from faith to fun and friendship — are unified in being directed to the greater glory of God.
List of Major Activities:
Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio
Schlitterbähn Waterpark of New Braunfels, Texas
Dave & Buster’s Arcade Catered Dinner and Recreation
Tour of San Antonio’s Historic Riverwalk with Dinner
Tour of The Alamo
Tour of the Catholic Missions of San Antonio
Visit the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Grand Coteau, Louisiana.
Tour San Ferdando Cathedral, Episcopal See of San Antonio