TheCompass: 500 participate in ‘Walk to Mary’

Tom Schmit and Pat Deprey, wearing baseball caps,
help carry a platform with a statue of Mary
at the start of Walk to Mary.
(Sam Lucero | The Compass)
CHAMPION — About 500 people participated in the inaugural Walk to Mary pilgrimage May 4. By the end of the 21-mile walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, which began at 7 a.m. at St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere, pilgrims were sore and tired, yet invigorated.

"My legs are starting to tighten up," said Jim Gillis of Seymour while resting on the grass at the shrine with his wife Jeannie. Both joined the pilgrimage at UW-Green Bay, completing the final nine miles. "It was just a perfect day for the first Walk to Mary. With any luck we'll do it again next year." The Walk to Mary was the idea of two local Catholics, Pat Deprey and Tom Schmit, in response to a challenge issued at a Catholic men's conference. They spent 1 1/2 years organizing the event, working with local municipalities and police to assure a convenient walking route and a safe experience for people of all ages.

"The Blessed Mother has been watching over us," Deprey said during a break at Holy Cross School in Bay Settlement, where the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross served lunch to walkers. "I've been praying for a year and a half over this, right up to today. It couldn't be a better day. The weather is perfect for a walk."

Deprey said that between 450 and 500 people signed up for the walk, "but I have also run across some people who showed up and walked with us." While the Walk to Mary was an opportunity to offer prayers and thanks to the Blessed Mother, it was also a way to support Catholic education. Registration for the walk was $30 per person and money raised will benefit Catholic education initiatives, said Deprey.
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