The Family on Pilgrimage: God Leads through Dead Ends

by Francis Etheredge


Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.


The style of the book is different from others in that the author includes the specific thoughtful words of people whom he has met on his journey. The belief that we are made up of all the people we meet along our path resonates frequently in this work. It is comfortably meaningful. Frances Etheredge in the prologue asserts that the growth of holiness in the family is a sign of the extent to which the Holy Family accompanies us throughout our lives. He then is kind enough to explain in laymen’s terms what a pilgrim is, the history of the pilgrimage, the revival of the pilgrimage by Pope John Paul II, the pilgrimage and the proclamation of faith in Christ, the pilgrimage experience of Alberto Gutierrez and basically the importance of evangelization. This is a very powerful and meaningful prologue to the reader. It gives energy and light to the meaningfulness of the book.


In the general introduction, the author explains the need for a general introduction for each chapter as the chapters were written at different times so the book spans about a decade or so. In this first chapter he delves into an overview of marriage and family life; a family pilgrimage and the perspective of poems that bring the ‘unconscious pilgrim’ to a fuller understanding of the relationship unfolding. The author then tells us the details of Corinna Turner’s pilgrimage to Washington and its relationship to a new religious congregation and to providence. Each of these stories tells of Etheridge’s interactions with the pilgrim and how it significantly changed his life. In pilgrimage to the coming of the word, the author offers us some poems on Mother Mary, the Bread of love and wine of glory. He then discusses the gifts of pilgrimage and how to understand them. He finishes up chapter two with the story of Dominic Quirke who in his experience of pilgrimage develops a relationship with God that leads to a vocation to the priesthood. Chapter three brings another aspect to the pilgrimage story as he gives us details about the World Youth Day Pilgrimage (2016) in which his children: grace, Teresa, and Peter tell of their experience. Chapters 4 and 5 are replete with the stories of pilgrimage in the loose sense of the word but are compelling stories. The author finishes the book with the story of himself as an evangelizing fool! This is a book that can be read in sections and then returned to without a problem. The people he interviews are unique but in a wonderful way outstandingly complex individuals who are in love with Christ and His Church.

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