Featured Ministry: Holy Hikes- Great Lakes

Featured Ministry: Holy Hikes- Great Lakes

Holy Hikes-Great Lakes began hiking (and strolling) in 2021 across the Diocese of Eastern Michigan and eventually expanded to include Western Michigan. They gather people from across parish, diocesan and denominational boundaries in hikes that include strolling, afternoon prayer stations and Eucharist hikes. Director Deacon Beckett Leclaire shares what makes the Holy Hikes-Great Lakes ministry so special:

Hiking with Great Lakes

Holy Hikes- Great Lakes was established in 2021 as Holy Hikes- Eastern Michigan, a ministry of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, before evolving in 2022 and beyond as Holy Hikes- Great Lakes, a bi-diocesan ministry of the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan.

We offer sacred strolls, longer afternoon prayer station hikes, and walking Eucharist hikes in locations throughout both dioceses, generally from April through October. We gather people from across parish, diocesan, and even denominational boundaries.

Our locations vary from urban to deeply forested, and reflect the diversity of our bi-diocesan community, although we often gather around bodies of water, be they wetlands, lakes, or rivers.

Favorite Hiking Location & Memory

One of my personal favorite hikes we’ve done was along the Blue Water Riverwalk in Port Huron, MI, to observe the Feast of St. Francis last year. The Blue Water River Walk runs along the St. Clair River on the border between Michigan and Canada and is one of the most dramatic river and wetland restoration projects in North America.

It was a wonderful opportunity to talk about the intersection of social and environmental justice, as from the Riverwalk one can see Chemical Valley in Ontario, where petroleum is processed into a variety of products, polluting the land, water, and air of the nearby Odawa reservation. So while we were celebrating the amazing restoration that has occurred there, we also bore witness to the brokenness as yet unresolved and the communities that are impacted.

That hike was also memorable as we were joined by a naturalist from the Friends of the St. Clair River, who explained the restoration work that had been done and identified local flora and fauna which we encountered.

In the Year to Come

My hope for our Holy Hikes ministry is that it will continue to bring people together from diverse communities to connect with their Creator and one another.