It was a rich, colorful, and mesmerizing beauty as they had never seen before, but to get there, they had to endure battling Mother Nature, leave the comforts of a bed and a home, push their body and spirit, and drive 18 hours.
Eleven men, from across the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, took part in a four-day adventure pilgrimage to Wyoming July 31-Aug. 8. The expedition, focusing on physical endurance and boosting one’s faith life, was part of The Legion of Valor, a new men’s group in the diocese that focuses on brotherhood, virtue, and mission.
The men completed 30 miles of hiking through the Cirque of the Towers, which is known as one of the most beautiful and picturesque high alpine locations in the United States. The trip also included the men rappelling off a cliff, going on a river canyon water slide, climbing, and other experiences in the high altitude.
In between these adventures, the men prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary, and the Stations of the Cross. Father Dominic Rankin of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield joined the group, celebrating daily Mass. The men shared testimonies and stories, focusing on the Catholic faith and their personal relationship with God.
“The trip was the most physically challenging thing I’ve experienced, but we were able to endure it by bonding together in faith as Catholic men and through the strength of receiving the Eucharist every day,” said Eric Portz, parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield. “The reward of seeing God’s creation up close in the magnificent Wind River Range was a wonder to behold, and it was extra special for me as my son Luke was with us.”
“The Wyoming pilgrimage was a life-changing opportunity to be immersed in the best of God’s creation first-hand, while diving deeper into prayer and fellowship with other men of our diocese,” said Dustin Riechmann, parishioner at St. Mary Parish in Edwardsville. “I will take this experience and apply the lessons learned to be a better husband, father and disciple of Christ back here in the ‘front country.’”
About The Legion of Valor:
Dozens of men are part of The Legion of Valor, from all corners of the diocese. The group is committed to spiritually protect and defend their families and all the families of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The men join in praying the Liturgy of the Hours multiple times each week and get together quarterly for spiritual reflection, enrichment, and social events. If you would like to join or for more information, go to valor.dio.org.