Classic Wisconsin: Discovering Mary in the Heartland 

September 1-9, 2024

We invite you to join us on a one-of-a-kind pilgrimage in Wisconsin, a pilgrimage which will bring you to 5 national shrines, sure to reveal a land and people with a rich tradition of Marian devotion.

The Polish people go on pilgrimage to pray at their Shrine in Poland, Our Lady of Czestochowa, and the French people journey to Lourdes to pray at their Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.  In the United States, we, too, have our own national Shrine devoted to Our Lady – our own Czestochowa and Lourdes –  in the heart of the Midwest, in the great state of Wisconsin, where Our Lady appeared in 1859. 

We will take you on a remarkable journey from the National Schoenstatt Chapel to Our Lady in Waukesha, to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lacrosse, to the majestic splendor of the Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians at Holy Hill, to the Byzantine monks of Holy Resurrection Monastery, arriving finally at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion, where you will pray in the presence of the “Queen of Heaven”.  At each sacred site, you will hear remarkable stories of Mary’s continued presence and intercession in the lives of pilgrims and locals alike.  

Traveling along the farm roads, forests, and Dells of Wisconsin, you will discover a unique constellation of sacred sites dedicated to the Blessed Mother.  We will encounter the living stones of American Catholicism in this land, such as a hotel owner who built a Divine Mercy Chapel in his Holiday Inn or the Wisconsin Cheesemakers who have brought forth more than 600 varieties of cheese –  a ¼ of the varieties in Italy! As we pilgrimage towards Christ with Mary and pray at 5 National Shrines, you will discover a rich tradition – culturally, spiritually and religiously. 

You might even encounter a present day pilgrim trekking along lonely farm roads between shrines, following a route traced out by a native Wisconsin priest in recent years and named the Wisconsin Way in tribute to the legendary Camino de Santiago in Spain.  And, you will have dinner with this priest who dreamt of creating a walking pilgrimage to the many shrines and holy places in Wisconsin. 

Come with us on a Journey Toward Christ through Mary… in Wisconsin and learn about her message to the souls in this country. 

Pilgrimage Overview

September 1 – 9, 2024

  • Spend four (4) nights at the Schoenstatt Retreat Center in Waukesha, 18 miles west of Milwaukee, and four (4) nights in Manitowoc near Lake Michigan at the only Holiday Inn with a Divine Mercy chapel.
  • Begin with a Day of Retreat at the beautiful Schoenstatt Retreat Center
  • Discover “America’s Fatima”: visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion, the site of the only Church-approved Marian apparition in the United States.
  • Learn about the hidden treasures of Catholicism in Wisconsin while encountering this unique and vibrant culture of Catholic pilgrimaging in America’s heartland today.
  • Meet Dr. Robert Moynihan, leading Vatican analyst and founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine and Deborah Tomlinson, President of Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages, and friends of Inside the Vatican magazine. 
  • Pilgrimage to 5 national shrines and 1 international shrine.

Day 1: Arrival – Welcome Mass and Dinner

  • Arrive at Schoenstatt Retreat Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin – transfer from Milwaukee airport (MKE) will be available.
  • Receive a welcome tea with a greeting and reflection from Schoenstatt Sister of Mary, Sr. Maria Victoria, and learn about this remarkable center of Catholic renewal.
  • Mass at the International Schoenstatt Shrine near the Retreat Center.
  • Enjoy a welcome dinner with Dr. Robert Moynihan, founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, and Deborah Tomlinson, President of Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages.

Day 2: Waukesha Day of Retreat

  • After breakfast, there is an optional early Mass at the Retreat Center
  • Attend a morning spiritual reflection with Sr. Maria Victoria, a Chilean nun who lived for many years in Schoenstatt, Germany. She will offer us a reflection on the Schoenstatt spirituality and its Marian emphasis which encourages all to see her as “a bridge leading to a deep, fervent love of God.” 
  • In the afternoon, there will be time for prayer, reflection, relaxing or exploring the grounds at the Retreat Center.
  • After dinner, we will have a special talk from our long-time friend and Shroud expert, Jim Bertrand, about the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help on Holy Hill (which we will visit on Tuesday) and the exhibit of the Shroud of Turin, as well as the history and significance of this holy relic. 

Day 3: Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lacrosse, Wisconsin 

  • Attend Sunday Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  
  • Receive a private tour of this magnificent shrine.
  • Have time on your own to pray, reflect, or explore the grounds and light a candle in the Votive Chapel, walk the Stations of the Cross, or pause to offer a prayer at the Memorial to the Unborn.

Day 4: National Shrine of Saint Philomena and the famous Wisconsin Dells

  • Visit the National Shrine of St. Philomena and learn the fascinating story of Father I. C. Wiltzius who devoted his frail energy to calling the world to venerate this Virgin-Martyr in Briggsville, Wisconsin.
  • Hear from Susan, the local custodian of the Shrine, how St. Philomena inspired her as a young girl to take up her cause and petition for this shrine to be reopened after years of neglect.  
  • Enjoy lunch overlooking the Wisconsin River followed by an afternoon in the great outdoors on a historic boat tour through the majestic Wisconsin Dells.

Day 5: Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill 

  • Morning spiritual reflection with Sr. Maria Victoria at the Schoenstatt Retreat Center.
  • Attend morning Mass at the Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians
  • Climb Holy Hill’s observation tower to enjoy breathtaking autumn views from the highest peak in southeastern Wisconsin.
  • Learn about and encounter the custodians of Holy Hill, the discalced Carmelite Friars.  
  • Visit the shrine’s exhibit on the Shroud of Turin and learn about the significance of the Shroud from Jim Bertrand, friend of Inside the Vatican and one of the leading experts on the Shroud.
  • Spend the evening in conversation with Fr. Andrew Kurz, the priest who started the walking pilgrimage called The Wisconsin Way. Learn from him about the rich history of Catholicism and Marian devotion in Wisconsin. This promises to be an amazing encounter.   

Watch the video below to see what our pilgrims say about our Wisconsin: Discovering Mary in the Heartland Pilgrimage

Day 6: Holy Resurrection Monastery and Cheesemaking Museum 

  • Visit the Byzantine Catholic monks of Holy Resurrection Monastery in the historic town of St. Nazianz. 
  • Attend a private Divine Liturgy with the monks of Holy Resurrection Monastery.
  • Enjoy a private lunch offered by the monks in their refectory followed by a spiritual reflection by one of the monks on monasticism in the Byzantine Catholic tradition.
  • Visit a local cheese factory and shop offering fresh cheese curds and learn about the history of cheesemaking in Wisconsin while touring their interactive museum. 
  • View local roadside rogation chapels and learn how these important chapels were an integral part of the lives of Catholic immigrants in Wisconsin. 
  • Enjoy dinner overlooking Lake Michigan.

Day 7: Green Bay

  • Head to Green Bay to visit the seat of the Diocese where Bishop David L. Ricken oversaw the process of the first Marian apparition approval in the United States, and based on the Bishop’s availability, meet with him at the Diocesan Center.
  • Enjoy lunch at a farm-to-table restaurant featuring local Wisconsin cheeses and produce. 
  • Visit St. Willebrord Church in downtown Green Bay where Vince Lombardi, of the Green Bay Packers, attended daily Mass.
  • Visit the Norbertine Shrine in De Pere and the National Shrine to St. Joseph. Attend Vespers. 

Day 8: Our Lady of Champion and Vineyard Harvest Tour

  • Arrive for the celebration of the Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion for the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.
  • Learn the story of Mary’s apparition to Adele Brise and the history of the building of the Shrine.  
  • Enrollment into the Confraternity of the Rosary will be offered to all pilgrims. 
  • Spend the afternoon enjoying a vineyard tour and tasting at the peak of the grape harvest.
  • Enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner overlooking Lake Michigan.

Day 9: Departure 

  • After breakfast, depart from the hotel by shuttle or bus to Milwaukee Airport (MKE).

Pilgrimage Information and Online Booking