By Colleen Rowan
WEST VIRGINIA—During this Lenten season, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will once again present its Lenten pilgrimages with Masses celebrated by diocesan priests known for their “quality of preaching.”
Slated to be held in Charleston, Inwood, Morgantown and Wheeling, the pilgrimages also will offer the sacrament of penance to participants. Organized by the diocesan Office of Worship and Sacraments, the pilgrimages will also present Catholics around the state with a special opportunity, said Bernadette Kime, director of the office.
“The great thing about these pilgrimages is that people come together from different parishes throughout the diocese and experience an evening of prayer and reflection during Lent,” Kime said. “We encourage people to come together as groups and make it like a pilgrimage from your parish. We are happy that we have priests within our own diocese known for their preaching; and we tried, specifically, to get priests to go to places where people wouldn’t have normally heard them preach.”
Each of the pilgrimages will begin with the opportunity to receive the sacrament of penance at 6 p.m. with various priests in the area available to hear confessions. Mass will follow at 7 p.m.
The first pilgrimage will be held at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Morgantown March 15 with guest homilist Very Rev. Paul J. Wharton, V.F., vicar forane of the Beckley Vicariate and pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish and St. Francis de Sales Parish School in Beckley. Father Wharton was ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling April 24, 1982. He is a member of the Presbyteral Council, the Clergy Personnel Committee and the board of directors for the Priests’ Health and Retirement Association. He also travels the country giving parish missions.
The second pilgrimage will be held at the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston March 22 with guest homilist Father Dennis R. Schuelkens, Jr., director of Vocations and Seminarians for the diocese. Father Schuelkens was ordained to the priesthood at the cathedral June 3, 2006. He is now pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Sacred Heart of Mary Parish, Madonna High School and St. Joseph the Worker Grade School—all in Weirton. He is also chaplain of the diocese’s Catholic Committee on Scouting and a member of the Diocesan School Board.
The third pilgrimage will be held at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling March 29 with guest homilist Father Walter M. Jagela, pastor of St. John University Parish in Morgantown. Father Jagela was ordained to the priesthood at the cathedral May 21, 1994. He is a member of the Presbyteral Council and is chaplain at West Virginia University in Morgantown.
The final pilgrimage will be held at St. Leo Parish in Inwood with guest homilist Father F. Leon Alexander, who celebrated his 50th anniversary of priesthood last year. He was ordained at the cathedral May 14, 1966. Father Alexander founded the diocese’s youth camp, Camp Tygart in Huttonsville (now the Bishop Hodges Pastoral Center), and served as director for six years. He also served at many parishes in the diocese and as dean of the Bluefield Deanery and vicar forane of the Charleston Vicariate. He also served on Presbyteral Council, the Clergy Personnel Committee and the board of directors for the Priests’ Health and Retirement Association. Father Alexander retired from active ministry June 23, 2010. He also presents retreats and spiritual talks around the diocese.
For more information, contact the Office of Worship and Sacraments at (304) 233-0880, ext. 289.
Lenten Pilgrimages to be Held at Four Churches in Diocese
By Colleen Rowan