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Follow Curtis Chamber as he walks in the steps of Bishop Baraga

Curtis Chambers, a parishioner at St. Mary-St. Charles in Cheboygan and former Chairman of the Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, has begun a journey in the footsteps – perhaps more accurately stated, the "snowshoe steps" – of Bishop Frederic Baraga.

In the context of the Year of Faith, and celebrating Pope Benedict XVI’s declaration of the heroic virtue of Bishop Baraga, Curtis will trek across the frozen land of the Diocese of Gaylord and the Diocese of Marquette, bearing not only artifacts from the Venerable missionary but also words of encouragement and calling all to a renewed participation in the life of faith.

He will share this message at each stop in the respective dioceses. Journey along with him as he chronicles his pilgrimage in pictures and brief commentary below. 

For your convenience, the most recent pictures are posted first.

Alone

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Thursday, February 21

"I often feel the presence of [Bishop] Baraga but he won't take a turn carrying the pack," Curtis wrote as he neared the final leg of his Pilgrimage.

Grateful

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Wednesday, February 20

Curtis' wife, Jane, was able to accompany him on his walk after visiting St. Kateri Church in Peshawbestown.

He writes, "Jane was able to walk with me for a while on the way back from Peshawbestown. Her support has been a great blessing on this trip and indeed through out my life."

It's windy!

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Tuesday, February 19

Here's a photo from Curtis' journey. He writes, "Just outside of Petoskey, the wind was blowing the water uphill."

St. Francis Solanus

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Tuesday, February 19

Curtis began his Tuesday by walking from Harbor Springs to the St. Francis Solanus Indian Mission Church in Petoskey. Here are some of the friendly faces that greeted him upon his arrival - (from L to R): John Barnwell, Pat Hoffman, Mary Joe Parker, Bill Hoffman, Sister Barbara Hubeny, O.P., and Curtis. 

Solemn Vespers in Harbor Springs

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Monday, February 18 - Evening

Curtis ended his first day in the Diocese of Gaylord at Holy Childhood parish in Harbor Springs, where Bishop Hebda and Father Joe Graff celebrated a Solemn Vespers. After Vespers, Curtis and his family joined Bishop Hebda, Father Joe, members of the diocesan staff and the parish for a feast featuring traditional Native American cuisine.

Beginning Part 2 of the Journey!

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Monday, February 18 - Morning

Curtis began the second leg of his Baraga Pilgrimage began with Mass at Cross in the Woods National Shrine in Indian River celebrated by Father Mike Haney, OFM. After Mass, the parish held a hot breakfast for Curtis to fill up on before he headed in to the cold. 

Marquette!

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Saturday, February 9

This just in...

"Made it to Marquette!!!"

Curtis made it to Marquette Friday afternoon about 4:00 and is pictured here in front of St. Peter Catehdral. He enjoyed a dinner with Archbishop-designate Sample, Fr. Ben Paris and Lynn from the Bishop Baraga Association as was asleep by 8:00 p.m.

Congratulations!

In a little over a week, Curtis will begin his Baraga Pilgrimage in the Diocese of Gaylord.

Last day

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Friday, February 8

Today Curtis begins the final and longest leg of his journey which will ultimately bring him to Marquette and St. Peter Cathedral. At 11:52 he texted:

"Last 20 miles to go."

Please keep him in your prayers!

Can you see it?

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Thursday, February 7

Curtis has enjoyed lots of beautiful scenery as he snowshoed today through the woods. While he travels he takes in the wonders of God's creation and prays.  And on occasion, he sees something special... can you see it?

"Eagle's nest 2nd tree back."

Lunchtime!

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Thursday, February 7

"I'd like to think Baraga might have had lunch under this same tree."

Company along the route

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Thursday, February 7

"Don't play on the railroad tracks!"

Onward to Marquette

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Thursday, February 7

This leg of the trip will take Curtis from Seney, west towards his final desitination of  Marquette.  He will stop part-way between the two communities for rest tonight.

"This tree would have been old when Baraga walked through here."

Heading down the railroad tracks

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Wednesday, February 6

Curtis has snowshoed on trails and along railroad tracks during his pilgrimage. Here he's leaving Newberry after a good rest.

A new morning

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Wednesday, February 6

Curtis prepares his sled for the trek to Seney.

St. Gregory Church, Newberry

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Wednesday, February 6

"Mass and a blessing this morning at St. Gregory Church in Newberry. Now on the way to Seney which is about 25 miles.  It's about 10o above today -- much warmer than yesterday."

On to Newberry

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Tuesday, February 5

Curtis travelled 30 miles today on snowshoe and tonight is resting in Newberry. It was a very long, snowy and windy day as illustrated by the photo here.  This was his view most of the day.  He wrote: "Thirty miles -- just beautiful -- but very tough on my body and mind.  Rest will be great."

Tomorrow Curtis will visit the school before continuing his trek.

Arrival at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Mission

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Monday, February 4

Curtis arrived at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Mission Church at about 4:00 p.m. today after an 18 mile walk from the Sault.  He was met at the church by some of the members.

He writes: "We had a wonderful feast in the church basement and I received a warm welcome by all."

Fr. Augustine

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Monday, February 5

Fr. Augstine Jacob and Curtis at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Mission in Bay Mills, MI.

Scenery

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Monday, February 4

"The scenery was breathtaking!"

A Short Warm-Up

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Monday, February 4

Curtis' son Levi met him at an intersection of the trail with a cup of hot coffee and some words of encouragement.

Deer

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Monday, February 4

"Deer on the trail -- moving faster than me!"

Bridge

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Monday, February 4

"Walked over this bridge."

First Stop

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Monday, February 4

Fr. John Hascall, OFM-Cap, and Curtis at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Sault Ste. Marie. 

"We celebrated Mass there! Wonderful church, with Native culture very beautifully decorated all over."

And so it begins...

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Monday, February 4

Curtis starts out on the trail at about 10:00 a.m.  The temperature is 4 degrees BELOW zero, but that is up from the 16 below zero reading the day before. The sled he pulls behind him will carry his food, tent and provisions for his journey and for camping out at night.

Eagle Song to Begin the Journey

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Monday, February 4

Today the pilgrimage in the Diocese of Marquette formally begins.  It started with a wonderful welcome at the Cultural Center for the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. They hosted a  breakfast and offered some wonderful words of encouragement to start the journey.  Cecil sang an Eagle Song to offer protection and vision for Curtis journey.  Clarence proclaimed powerful words from Scripture for strength from God and Aaron presented Curtis with a holy card and a St. Kateri rosary that was blessed in Rome when she was canonized this fall.

"It was a 'Wow!!' start.  God is weaving us all together in this journey!"

Sharing the Good News

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Preparations

As Curtis treks from community to community, he will pray.  He will pray for this journey, its mission, and for the intentions of those who request him to carry their prayers with him.  He will also proclaim a message of welcome at each stop along with way, offering a gift of a cross made from cedar and sweetgrass, sacred herbs to Native American tribes and tied with four ribbons whose colors represent the Circle of Life (yellow-spring, red-summer, black-autumn, and white-winter). He will also present a relic from now-Venerable Bishop Frederic Baraga -- small pieces of cloth from Bishop Baraga's sock.

Meeting with students

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Monday, January 28

The week before Curtis began his pilgrimage, he spoke with students at Bishop Baraga Catholic School in Cheboygan.  It was a wonderful beginning to Catholic Schools Week.  The students will be tracking Curtis' travels day by day.

"They asked some good questions about the trip and about how Bishop Baraga wold have travelled.  It was a wonderful experience!"

A solitary journey

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Early January

Curtis will make the pilgrimage almost always alone, walking trails often laid out along railroad tracks but occasionally meeting crossroads, as he travels from community to community.

Training run

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Early January

Curtis has been prayerfully preparing for his journey, both physically and mentally, asking for God's guidance and for strength to accomplish this call.  His physical preparations have included training runs like this one in which he walked a trail from Mackinaw City to Cheboygan, a distance of about 18 miles.