Carolyn Eriksson, left, and Barbara Mason had lunch with pastor Msgr. John Talesfore at St. Mary’s Cathedral Jan. 19 to commemorate their pilgrimage to attend Mass at all of the Catholic churches in San Francisco over the last four years.
Women complete all-city Catholic church pilgrimage
March 19th, 2014
By Tom Burke
The new year and Mass at All Hallows Chapel brought a prayerful and powerful end to the San Francisco church pilgrimage begun by Barbara Mason and Carolyn Eriksson at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi in 2009.
“It turned out to be one of the most memorable Masses we had attended and, as such, a very fitting ending to our pilgrimage,” the two said in a joint email to Catholic San Francisco.
The two arrived an hour early at All Hallows just as the pastor, Father Dan Carter, was opening the doors. “He warmly greeted us and encouraged us to stay, talking to us about the history of the parish,” the women said, noting arriving parishioners also sought them out. “Everyone was so friendly – not just in welcoming us, but in greeting one another – that it felt like a family gathering.”
Catholic San Francisco last spoke with Mason, a parishioner of St. Denis, Menlo Park and Eriksson, a parishioner of St. Matthew, San Mateo, in early 2012 when they were about halfway through attending Mass at the approximately 50 churches in San Francisco. The trek began from stories the women read in Catholic San Francisco about the Nuova Porziuncola at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi and people who had made pilgrimages to the tiny church.
“I’m so proud that we finished our pilgrimage, but not surprised,” Mason said. “I believe it was the highlight of both of our lives.”
I had asked the two if quitting the pilgrimage was ever an option. “Never!” said Eriksson. “In fact, we both felt a sense of sadness as we approached the end of our journey. It had been such an amazing experience that we didn’t want it to end.”
“We learned a lot along the way, and believe we were truly guided by God,” Mason said. She spoke of Sundays they were headed for St. Elizabeth Church but were detoured due to traffic problems and incomplete Internet directions. Their destinations became instead Corpus Christi Church in the Excelsior and Potrero Hill’s St. Teresa of Avila. “It happened to be the feast of Corpus Christi and the Mass was a spectacular one, full of pomp and circumstance,” Mason said. “The second Sunday we somehow ended up at St. Teresa of Avila where we heard a particularly moving sermon.”
“My relationship with God has been strengthened and made even more personal by sharing in the Mass with all the wonderful people we met along the way,” Eriksson said. “We were greeted with such welcoming friendliness by both parishioners and priests that at times I was overwhelmed. Each parish had its own personality and each one touched my heart.”
“This started as a fun thing to do, and we didn’t realize we would actually go to the 44 churches in the city,” Mason said. “However, we derived so much pleasure from it that we looked forward to our monthly Masses.”
“Barbara and I will find another spiritual journey to take in the future, maybe the California missions,” Eriksson said.
Both said they liked the architecture, music and liturgies offered by the city’s churches: “Most of all, though, it was the warmth and friendliness of the people and priests that had the most impact.”
From March 21, 2014 issue of Catholic San Francisco.