Diocese issues Year of St. Joseph passports

The Year of St. Joseph Passport.

It won’t get you out of the country, but the passport issued by the Diocese of Wichita for the Year of St. Joseph may help you get into heaven.

Jake Samour, director of the Office of Family Life, said the idea for the passport came up during a meeting of a task force Bishop Carl A. Kemme convened to plan the Year of St. Joseph.

“Someone mentioned that when you walk the Camino de Santiago they have a document that is stamped, or when you have a passport you always want to see how many stamps you have,” Samour said.

The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage honoring St. James that starts in France and ends in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Most Camino pilgrims carry a document called a credential, which gives access to overnight accommodations. The “pilgrim’s passport” is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town at which the pilgrim has stayed.

Passport an incentive for families

“We thought it would encourage families to go on a pilgrimage together,” Samour said, adding that he recently took his children to one of the pilgrimage sites and that they loved the trip.

“They love the fact that they can get their passport stamped,” he said. “One of my girls lost her passport for a brief moment – she left it in a pew while praying – and she was really sad because we were on our third parish.”

In addition to providing a record of the church visited, Samour said the passport explains what a pilgrimage is, contains information about how to use the passport, and an explanation about how to obtain the plenary indulgence granted by the Vatican for the Diocese of Wichita.

“I thought it was significant that the Vatican asked pilgrims to pray for the United States to be faithful to its Christian heritage, for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the defense of the human family. I can’t think of three more important things to pray for in our day and age.”

Passport will help educate about the diocese

Samour said the pilgrimage will also help the faithful learn about the geography of the diocese.

“I won’t name the priest, but I saw him today and he said he had never been to McPherson or Conway Springs,” Samour said, adding that he, too, had never been to a couple of the parishes.

“The pastors of the churches we visited were excited to receive the pilgrims,” he said. “I hope more people do it.”