Chasing Jesus on a Boat — In a Pickup Truck

A riveting journey of Providence, following Jesus down the Ohio River ...

Jesus alive in the Real Presence goes by boat.
Jesus alive in the Real Presence goes by boat. (photo: Jeffrey Bruno / National Catholic Register)

I missed the boat.

Well, I didn't actually miss it. However, some logistical issues made it impossible for me to be on it …


Of course, I’ll never know what it was like, but I now know what it’s like to chase a boat in a pickup truck.

It all began at the airport counter of the car rental place. It turned out that the cheapest vehicle on the lot was a brand-new, full-size, quad-cab, 4x4 Dodge Ram pickup truck. Scratching my head, I asked the girl helping me how it was possible that this behemoth of a vehicle was cheaper than the subcompact sitting beside it, which could easily fit in its bed.

She shrugged.

I shrugged.

So be it.

Little did I know how valuable this monster-sized truck would be.

So, as I peered down at the cars around me, I left for Steubenville, Ohio, to meet up with the Seton Route Pilgrims, who were about halfway through their Eucharistic Pilgrimage.

The boat I’d be trailing was an old “sternwheeler” named the Sewickley. Aboard would be Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, the bishop of Steubenville, Ohio, the bishop of Wheeling, West Virginia, Father Roger Landry, a few clergy, and the “Perpetual Pilgrims.”

Upon arrival, Bishop Lohse hands Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament to Fr. Roger Landry aboard the vessel ‘Sewickley.’
Upon arrival, Bishop Lohse hands Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament to Father Roger Landry aboard the vessel ‘Sewickley.’(Photo: Jeffrey Bruno )

In a first, in an encyclopedia of firsts, since the pilgrimages began, they would be sailing down the Ohio River about 30 miles and blessing several groups and locations at various points on the river’s banks.

I’ve never been to Ohio … or West Virginia … which was where the stops would occur. All I can say is: Thank God for GPS.

After the boat departed Steubenville, I traveled from location to location and met different communities of faithful: different, but the same, in that they were all awaiting Jesus on the gently flowing banks of the Ohio River.

Stunningly scriptural, I thought.

One stop was at a bridge … and this is where the megalodon of a truck came in useful.

Jesus aboard the Sewickely.
Jesus aboard the Sewickely.(Photo: Jeffrey Bruno )

It would have been a long walk to the center of the span …

But no signs read, “No Stopping” or “No Parking” …

So I rolled the dice.

As the boat approached some hundreds of feet below, I pulled the monster truck over mid-span, hopped out, stood up in the skyscraper-high bed, and gazed at the majestic view before me. The photo wasn’t so majestic, but it’s undoubtedly one of a kind.

So, in celebration of this feat and realizing that this was now officially an adventure, I stopped for a cheeseburger and chocolate milkshake because adventures like oversized pickup trucks require fuel.

Hours later, after covering all the stops, the pickup-boat chase came to an end. As the gathered awaited the boat’s arrival, I looked around: Countless folks of all ages were kneeling out of a soul-deep love and adoration for Christ, anxiously awaiting His arrival.

The faithful await as well.
The faithful await as well.(Photo: Jeffrey Bruno )

The boat docked, and a walking procession began.

Finally, the boat arrives in Bellaire, its final destination, where the Knights of Columbus await in formation.
The boat arrives in Bellaire, its final destination, where the Knights of Columbus await in formation.(Photo: Jeffrey Bruno )

No more boats.

No more trucks.

The procession begins its journey on-foot.
The procession begins its journey on-foot.(Photo: Jeffrey Bruno )

We were now all walking the same road … following Jesus.

I’ll leave it at this:

You’ll never be let down when you give your heart to Christ.

Sometimes, it may be beautiful … which draws us into His Joy.

The procession continues from the boat to the cathedral
The procession begins under threatening skies.(Photo: Jeffrey Brunno )

Sometimes, it may be painful … which draws us into His Passion.

And sometimes, it may be unpredictable and uncertain … which binds us closer to Him.

And sometimes that’s the best part.

Because you know what else is filled with unpredictability and uncertainty?

An adventure.

And who doesn’t love an adventure, especially when your guide is Jesus Christ.