A Family People’s Pilgrimage to Cape Cod

A Family People’s Pilgrimage to Cape Cod

The Odell/Baffa family took a pilgrimage to the tallest point on a fragile U.S. peninsula threatened by climate change.

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Friday 21 August 2015 at 18:50
A Family People’s Pilgrimage to Cape Cod

by Jeffry Odell Korgen

For The People's Pilgrimage, we put the 'pilgrim' in pilgrimage—climbing 60 ramps and 162 stairs to the top of Pilgrim Monument on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the tallest point on a fragile U.S. peninsula threatened by climate change.

Commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt, Pilgrim Monument commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims’ first encounter with North America. They explored, chatted with the local Nauset people, and composed the Mayflower Compact. Ultimately, the Pilgrims rejected the site as a permanent settlement for sustainability reasons. They believed they would cut down all of the trees for fuel in short order, turning this Promised Land into a barren monument to imprudence. And so, after five weeks, on they went to Plymouth.

We chose this pilgrimage site for several reasons. For Kathleen and I, it is a place of cherished family memories—as children, we both swam in the Cape’s waters, breathed the deep smells of the marsh, and enjoyed summer days that stretched to 10:00 pm. As young adults, our romance blossomed on the bike trail and the National Seashore on frequent breaks from graduate studies at Boston College. The seashore itself is a national treasure—dedicated in 1961 to all Americans by President John F. Kennedy, forever preserving the most beautiful stretch of coastline in the United States for its people.

For me, it is a sacred place—I first felt the prescience of God here, in a salty breeze.

We’ve imparted our love of the Cape to our two teenage daughters through annual trips with extended family. Three branches of the Odell/Baffa family joined us on this pilgrimage, as seen in our “selfeet.”

Our collective prayer is that world leaders will act to negotiate a strong climate agreement, preserving this treasure of God’s creation for spiritual enjoyment for generations to come.

Mission Accomplished
Jeffrey & Kathleen



Jeffry Odell Korgen is a campaign advisor for GreenFaith and Our Voices and the author of several books on faith and social justice.

Header image via Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

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