Thursday, August 20, 2009

Walking For Jesus
Pilgrim George

Yesterday morning I was busy collecting the recyclables for this morning’s pickup, when Judy came back from an appointment and said, “Jim, get your camera and come with me!” I was grumpy and replied, “Can I finish this job first? “NO, it will be too late!” I was a little miffed with all this drama. (As if I have never interjected drama into Judy’s life!) Oh well, Judy was just ready to open a new door in our life’s adventure.

She said that you have to see this gentleman walking down the hill from the college. (I thought – she wants me to take a photo of a man walking down the hill?) I then saw this fellow wearing a long blue patchwork robe walking with a staff bearing a cross on top. He had a flowing white beard and was wearing an icon of the Virgin Mary around his neck. We stopped and immediately his face radiated kindness. Judy said, “Could we treat you to breakfast?” “Sure, I am on my way to McDonalds!” he replied. I said “Could I take a photo?” “Of course” was his response. This was our introduction to Pilgrim George.

Pilgrim George (George Walter) is a Roman Catholic pilgrim who has walked 39, 000 miles for Jesus. His world wide walks have taken him on many adventures.

As we ordered breakfast, we begin our adventure of learning the many interesting facts about our new found friend. Pilgrim George walks from May to September. In the fall and winter, he writes and continues his life as a spiritual hermit. He rereads the Bible in its entirety in those winter months. At 68 years young, he plans out his walks carefully. As you can see from the map below, Pilgrim George started his current walk on May 4, 2009 in Butler, PA and will end his circular trek on August 29, 2009 in Uniontown, PA at Mount Saint Macrina. (1500 miles)

1970-71 was the year of Pilgrim’s first walk. In 39 years he has walked through forty countries. His robe is made from patches of denim that were collected from old jeans from those countries traveled. He recites the rosary in 20 languages and prays for the people in those countries. His icon around his neck is a copy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which, as he says, illustrates more of the divinity of Jesus rather than humanity. The original icon is under the care of the Redemptorist fathers of the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome where it is now enshrined. His staff was cut at the cave of the prophet Elisha in Haifa, Israel, and it has been his companion throughout the Holy Land and many countries on several continents.

When Pilgrim George finished Catholic seminary, he stated that he was an intellectual Christian but was lacking sincere faith in his heart. He was ordained as a deacon, but did not take his priestly vows. His spiritual quest led him to find the true meaning of the trinity. He rediscovered the meaning of God in the mountains of Colorado. He was in a desert in Spain and rediscovered Jesus while reading the gospel of Luke. Finally the trinity was completed in Pittsburgh when a Catholic charismatic group led him to find the meaning of the Holy Spirit.

He is walking for Jesus. Pilgrim George explained that he had a calling that changed the direction of his life. Just as Jesus said to his disciples to go on their walk and do not worry about money or worldly goods, Pilgrim George manages to travel with his worldly possessions in a denim patchwork duffle bag that contains his tent, bedroll, Bible, and many memories. He proudly showed us photos of him at the Vatican having an audience with Pope John Paul.

I left Judy at McDonalds with our new found friend to go and see our State Farm family on Main Street. I requested a photocopy of the February 17, 2001 Pittsburgh Tribune article on Pilgrim George that he shared with us. I explained to friend, Dan Johnson, what had happened and that he needed to meet this pilgrim. Dan drove immediately to McDonalds where we continued our interesting conversations.

About an hour after first meeting Pilgrim George, he was off walking along Rt 119N to Lynn. His plan was to get to Weston by Saturday so he can attend Sunday mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. He always plans his walks to assure that he celebrates mass every Sunday.

Goodbye, Pilgrim George! We are much better since making your acquaintance!

Here are a few links from the Pittsburgh Tribune that will provide more information on this traveling pilgrim.


Blogger jmjames2 said...

Judy & Jim: You have been blessed by this experience and you are a blessing to those who are in any way a part of your lives! Love ya!

8:45 AM  
Blogger Jim Meads said...

Mona, you are so kind. I have printed this blog for "show and tell" in Sunday School.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Granny Sue said...

What a guy. Thank you for telling us about him. I remember meeting a coboy once who was riding across country because he had cancer and only had 6 months to live. He wanted to see the US before he died. He'd extended his "sentence" as he called it by about a year when we met him, and he looked pretty healthy then.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Jim Meads said...

Great story!! Cowboy, pilgrim - waiting now for the arrival of the Mormon Taberacle Choir to sing at our Senior Center (just kidding - but would make a good story! Thanks for sharing!

6:49 PM  

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