From its inception, Sick Pilgrim was intended to reach Catholics and Catholics-in-exile on the margins. As Jessica Mesman said in her introductory post in 2015:
“We wanted a space to write for ourselves and for those who are here in the church with us and those who are attracted to Catholicism but can’t find their way in. For those who have Catholic minds or Catholic aesthetics or Catholic hearts but remain, for whatever reason, outside the church, or who feel they must seek outside Catholicism to meet their spiritual needs….We want to invite people in, encourage them to look around, raid the church for treasures, as Wilfrid said, and claim what’s theirs.
“We’re not going to try to make Catholicism relevant, though we may sometimes reveal how relevant it stubbornly remains. We want to talk about the ways in which many of us are searching for something that’s been there all along.”
And it has done just this—brought together a large group of eclectic writers, artists, and spiritual seekers who have a deep love of the faith, even while having unrelenting questions, doubts, reservations, and even personal wounds. Sick Pilgrim has been a liminal space not for the picture-perfect True Real Catholics ™, but for self-proclaimed terrible Catholics muddling along, trying to make sense of things like abuse scandals, NFP, and Francis-hating bishops all while loving Hildegard of Bingen, the Stations of the Cross or our daily check-ins with the BVM.
As the new stewards, Kristen Allen and Marybeth Bishop plan to continue this welcoming space. Just as we were welcomed, allowed to question EVERYTHING, and surrounded by community, we hope to continue to offer the same for all the marginalized, doubting, terrible Catholics and ex-Catholics out there. This is a space to both deconstruct and to ooh in wonder; to wrestle with God and to collapse exhausted and let others hold the faith for us for a while.
“Because,” as Mesman says, “we’re all pilgrims drifting toward God whether we realize it or not, sick as dogs, broken and fallen, in need of healing and rest and companionship. Sometimes we sing on our way, and sometimes we kick and scream. We long for fellow travelers who can help bear our burdens and illuminate the good and beautiful when the way turns dark.”
Kristen Allen, under the advice of the priest in the family, left the Catholic parish of her upbringing on a pilgrimage in search of Jesus with stops at a Baptist summer camp, a Pentecostal congregation, and a Jewish university, circling back to Catholic fellowships that tolerate her wrestling with tenets of the faith. She can be reached at SickPilgrimBloggers@gmail.com.
Marybeth Bishop is a cradle Catholic mom and wife who wrestles constantly with church doctrine surrounding issues of women’s roles in the church, LGBT inclusion, and sexuality, and with the abuse crises. She can be reached at SickPilgrimBloggers@gmail.com.