Forging a Path to Holiness Through the Internet

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The Lord works in mysterious ways, and a New Orleans couple is hoping the Internet is one of His modern tools.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, and a New Orleans couple is hoping the Internet is one of His modern tools.

Anthony Landreneau and Nicole Miller Landreneau have set up a website http://www.fundourpilgrimage.com, to raise money for a pilgrimage to an international religious conference in London this fall. Considering their relationship started on the Internet, it seems a fitting way for them to do fundraising.

"It's a wacky little web site that tells the story of us as a couple, why we want to do this, why it means so much to us, and provides a vehicle for people to donate," says Nicole. "Other people have been successful getting their weddings and other events paid for by doing this sort of thing, so we thought we'd give it a try." The couple plans to share their experiences at the Path to Rome conference with contributors via the website.

The Landreneaus belong to a Catholic lay institute called Miles Jesu, which sponsors the Path to Rome conference and pilgrimage. The annual event, which is held in various locations worldwide, features famous converts to Catholicism such as Monsignor Graham Leonard, the former Anglican Bishop of London, plus prominent Catholic leaders including Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect, Congregation for the Clergy.

The Landreneaus attended their first Path to Rome in 2000. "It was a turning point in both of our lives," says Anthony. "As a result of the conference, we became closely involved with Miles Jesu, and that has profoundly changed the way we live our lives and our dedication to God." They've since attended several more of the gatherings, volunteering their time to help out as well as attending religious presentations and visiting important sites and Catholic shrines near the host city.

This year, the conference takes place in London, England, November 12 and 13 with a tour including sites in Ireland. However, the $3,500 per person price tag is a major obstacle for the couple. "We knew that unless we won the lottery, or came up with a creative way to raise the money, we wouldn't be able to afford to go," says Anthony. Believing the Lord helps those who help themselves, they came up with the website idea."Some people may view this as a leisure trip, but it's not," says Nicole. At last year's conference in Phoenix, the couple worked three days straight in the bookstore because that's where Miles Jesu needed them. However, they were able to make time to see some of the presenters talk about their conversions. Says Nicole: "Those of us born into the faith are more than likely to take it for granted, and really know so little about our own history, that these stories open up your mind to what it really means to be Catholic."

The pilgrimages and tours related to the conference also are life altering, adds Anthony. "What a blessing to witness in person the testaments to faith which are displayed in the lives of the saints, the cathedrals and basilicas built to honor God." He adds: "It's also a real connection with the Church. As Catholics in America, we tend to feel exceptionally distant from the governing body of the Church in Rome. Through these conferences you experience the Church Alive, and discover how much Rome really is in touch with its members worldwide."

"We're not expecting to receive a windfall," says Anthony, "Our goal is to get there, to work, to represent our region and to bring back and share with all those who help us the blessings that God grants to us." If everyone who visits the site donates even one dollar, and passes it on to a friend who donates one dollar... and so on, we could potentially reach our goal, plus bring the prayer requests of all who contribute. Through our art, through the Internet, we could bring the experience of the conference and pilgrimage to thousands." The couple hopes to wrap up fundraising by late September.

If they raise extra money, the Landreneaus plan to establish an endowment for others who want to attend in future. "There are always people who want to go, especially college students, who cannot afford the package. This could be a great opportunity to do something meaningful for the organization for years to come." Nicole says.

Their website, http://www.fundourpilgrimage.com, has information on a special gift for the benefactor who contributes the most to their cause. For more information about the Path to Rome conference, visit http://www.pathtorome.com. For more information about Miles Jesu, visit http://www.milesjesu.com.

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Kathy Quirk