A Wrong Turn Turns Out Right

by Christopher Koch

Have you ever created a careful plan only to see it disintegrate before your eyes?  Sometimes we are so preoccupied with our own courses of action we fail to realize what surprises God might have in store.

When I first met Fr. Larry LoMonaco at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Waynesville, N.C., it wasn’t part of the plan. That day began with a meticulously thought out agenda to visit a dozen churches from Asheville toward Winston Salem in North Carolina to talk with them about their interest in planning a Catholic pilgrimage tour.  With the first two early morning visits accomplished, I was headed to my third appointment, just west of Asheville.

As I drove on, I inadvertently passed my exit and proceeded the next dozen or so miles on I-40. Finally noticing my error and upset that all my careful plotting of an itinerary was crumbling before my eyes, I turned off onto Highway 74.  I ventured in the direction of Waynesville. As long as I was here, I might as well call on a Catholic church — if I could find one — to talk with them their possible interest in a Catholic pilgrimage tour.

Catholic News Herald, Waynesville, NC, Catholic pilgrimage seriesGoogling “Waynesville” and “Catholic Church,” my phone directed me to 234 Church Street. Once inside St. John the Evangelist Church, I made my way to the Blessed Sacrament and prayed – asking our Lord mostly for patience, but also asking God if this parish might be open to traveling with us on a pilgrimage tour.  After spending 15 minutes in silence and now with a better attitude, I made my way to the Rectory.

Fr. Larry LoMonaco openly greeted me at the door, and I asked him if he might be interested in taking his flock on Catholic pilgrimage.  Surprisingly, he shared with me that he just recently returned from pilgrimage tour of the Holy Land, and he was looking to make a pilgrimage to Spain next.  Wow!  Talk about answered prayers!

Fr. Larry and I worked together for months, laying the groundwork for what turned out to be an unbelievable Catholic pilgrimage experience.  Today, I feel a special bond with each person in our group — like a true family member.   While far from it in my mind at the time, I certainly know in my heart today that the wrong turn I took was the right course in God’s providential plan.

Read more about St. John the Evangelist Church’s 11-day Marian pilgrimage to France, Spain, and Portugal, including the Shrine at Lourdes, the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

Christopher Koch works with Catholic Travel Centre’s new clients in developing customized itineraries to meet their Catholic pilgrimage tour needs.

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