By: Rev. Michael J. Russo
Pastor, Our Lady of Fatima
Lafayette, Louisiana

Traveling is one of my favorite activities. It is, in many ways, a great teacher, and for this reason I made the decision to travel to Canada and Nova Scotia on the Diocesan Centennial Anniversary Pilgrimage.

Portrait of Rev. Michael J. Russo.
Portrait of Rev. Michael J. Russo, Our Lady of Fatima Lafayette, Louisiana.

Being from an Italian family, from the southeastern part of the Diocese (which is not predominantly Cajun), I was not immersed in the Cajun culture while growing up. Thus, I felt going to Nova Scotia would help me learn more about the rich Cajun heritage of our Diocese and make me a better priest. The fact that the pilgrimage would take us to the tombs of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Andre Bessette and the Shrine of St. Anne (all of whom are some of my favorite saints) only added to my desire to participate.

The trip proved to be wonderful in every way. Apart from the enriching spiritual experience, there was the joy that comes when “brothers and sisters dwell in unity.” It does not take long for Southern Louisianans to bond. After 24 hours together, we’re all practically family. Our common spiritual focus made our connection with one another that much deeper.

I enjoyed being with brother priests and the bishop. Magnificat Travel made the trip special—organized, prayerfully focused, and filled with unique surprises along the way, which brought much joy to each of the pilgrims.

A large group of pilgrimes poses in front of a tall metal cross, known as the Deportation Cross in Nova Scotia.
Pilgrims pose in front of the Deportation Cross in Nova Scotia.

One thing is certain: Hearts were touched, and a deeper love and appreciation for our Catholic Faith and the sacrifices of our ancestors who upheld it, were gained during our 10 days together. I will always remember our time at the Deportation Cross in Nova Scotia—powerful!

What a beautiful Faith we have—blessed to have lived it out with some very special pilgrims who are part of a great diocese.

Here’s to the next 100 years! May the Diocese of Lafayette be equally blessed!