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Pilgrimage of Hope

Testimony from: The Morales Family

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe seeks to offer to all Our Lady’s children a harbor and home, a place, in Cardinal Burke’s words, “to seek God’s forgiveness and love, to implore His help in times of great temptation and suffering, and to thank God for His manifold blessings.” In search of this graced experience, some travel significant distances. One recent example is José and Maegan Morales and their family, of Farmington, New Mexico.

“We have a strong connection with Our Lady of Guadalupe, being from New Mexico and [José’s] family from Mexico,” says Maegan. “But we definitely had no idea what the Shrine was.” This discovery came about through the devotion of their eldest, ten-year-old Damian, to Bl. Carlo Acutis.

Since infancy, Damian has suffered from a rare kidney disorder. After learning of a boy who had been miraculously healed through a relic of Bl. Carlo, Damian began asking for a relic of his heavenly friend. Unsure at first how to respond, in the end Maegan sensed a divine inspiration at work, “like the Holy Spirit totally took over,” and searched online, hoping that a relic might be on tour somewhere nearby. All results for tours, however, were from earlier years.

At last the search led to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which acquired a first-class relic of Bl. Carlo only this past October.

A trip to Wisconsin posed a substantial challenge for the Morales family. As with many young families, sicknesses or work often make traveling difficult for them. José’s job generally requires him to arrange coverage for time off at least a month in advance. In addition, flights from the small airports near Farmington tend to be particularly expensive.

Yet Providence had surprises in store. A few weeks before the family’s March trip to Denver for Damian’s medical appointments, his parents looked up flights from Denver. To their surprise, they found affordable tickets for the time they would be there.

From that point on, Maegan recalls, “God just pieced everything together.” The time off was already arranged, since the family had preexisting travel plans; and although the weather was expected to be severe, it unexpectedly cleared up just in time for their flight. The family spoke with Shrine staff, who arranged for them to receive a blessing with the relic of Bl. Carlo. In addition, the pilgrimage provided a connection with a patron saint not only for Damian but for his brother Giovanni, who has a particular devotion to Padre Pio. The blessing was given by Fr. Pio Vottola, who was able to share with the excited young pilgrim not only his “encyclopedia” of knowledge about their patron, but a chance to venerate a relic not normally accessible to pilgrims.

“I think one of the biggest things is to really, tangibly feel how uniquely God loves each of us,” Maegan says through tears of gratitude. “This trip was specifically to see Bl. Carlo Acutis’s relic, but here God is providing for [Giovanni] and totally taking care of [José] at work. Our Lady of Guadalupe is such a special mom to us, and to have her be the one that’s like, here, I’ll take care of you … I can’t get over everything being so completely put together that way.”

Amid their trials and struggles, the Morales family found a concrete experience of God’s love, through the heart of Our Lady, at the Shrine. This Shrine exists to offer that experience to all who come, from near or far, and thereby fulfill Our Lady’s desire as expressed to St. Juan Diego: “I will exalt Him and make Him manifest; I will give Him to the people in all my personal love.”

Read more: First Class Relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis

To learn more about making a pilgrimage, visit or call our Pilgrimage Coordinator, Ruben Mendoza, at 608-519-4429.