(photo courtesy of John Bering)

Exactly 39 men from St. Henry Parish in Buckeye and their relatives across the generations, got Advent started off on the right foot, literally, when they took “A Walk to Bethlehem.” Fr. Billy Kosco, pastor, organized the Dec. 2 pilgrimage aimed at strengthening teenaged men, young adults, fathers and grandfathers in faith and fellowship.

The men, aged 10 to 70, took a mile-and-a-half walk in the desert surrounding Our Lady of Solitude Monastery in Tonopah, stopping occasionally to reflect on the infancy narrative from Luke’s Gospel. It was the second such journey in as many years.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Walking silently through the desert and meditating on scripture heightened my awareness of my personal relationship with Jesus,” Ron Bohnlein reflected. “The crunching of the ground as I walked and the distant mountain vistas took me to the time when Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem fully aware that God was physically with them.”

Bohnlein said the experience brought joy to his soul.

Toward the end of the journey, the men prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary in the monastery’s chapel, ate lunch and heard a short talk from one of the nuns juxtaposing her memories from a Holy Land trip with each man’s personal journey toward salvation.

“I came away with a lasting knowledge that God created the beauty of the natural world and is present in everything we experience — even the simple act of walking across a desert,” Bohnlein said.