Friar Randy Kin, guiding the devout in a serene rosary procession at Our Lady of Consolation, Carey, Ohio. A journey of faith, one prayer at a time.
Invitation to Encounter: A Franciscan Perspective on Pilgrimage Ministry
Q & A with Our Lady of Consolation Minister of Hospitality, friar Randy Kin, OFM Conv.
Why is it important to go on pilgrimage?
It’s good to encounter your faith in a new way. We get complacent at home, but when you’re on a pilgrimage, you can connect with God in a new environment. Coming to a peaceful place, like Carey or the places associated with St. Francis, you’re able to quiet yourself and pray in a deeper way. As a pilgrim, it has a special effect because you are giving yourself that time.
What kinds of people do you encounter in pilgrimage ministry?
We encounter people who are hurting, those who are in need of someone to listen to their stories. Everyone wants to be heard, wants to hear their name. Especially in Carey, they want to know that a friar or someone is there to listen to them. People come back here and say, “I really had somebody listen to me or pray with me or hear my confession. It meant so much to have someone touch me with the relic of the Cross or to have a friar anoint me.” To take the time to truly share compassion when it is so easy to just ignore each other or say that’s not my problem, it means a lot.
What has pilgrimage ministry taught you about the Franciscan charism of encounter?
As a Franciscan, it has to make you think about Francis’ encounter with the leper. That was such a turning point in his life. He saw the face of Christ in the leper; he saw someone as a child of God. Taking time for another person, hearing their story, giving a hug or a blessing is so important. It means seeing them and treating them as a child of God.
What have you learned from encountering others on their spiritual journey?
It has definitely helped to put my life into perspective. When you encounter someone going through chemotherapy, difficulties in their family, or who has had a stroke, a horrible accident, a death of a loved one, then you begin to reevaluate what you consider problems in your life. It teaches you empathy and to be more humble and understanding. You can feel for them in a deeper way. It reminds me to treat people with love, respect, and kindness, because the small stuff doesn’t matter. You never know what the people arriving on the pilgrim bus are going through.
What do you hope pilgrims encounter when they come to a Franciscan shrine?
I hope they encounter hospitality, kindness, and the goodness of the friars. I hope they know that we’re there for them on their journey. A lot of people will come and say that the friars were so welcoming and understanding. Hopefully they will be able to pass their experience onto their kids. I hope they learn something about Franciscans and our way of life, too.