Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Catholic Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Ursula Aldana

Second Advisor

Michael Duffy

Third Advisor

Emily Nusbaum

Fourth Advisor

Kathryn Barush


Catholic schools were founded to assist parents in the passing of the faith to their children (Second Vatican Council, 1965; SCCE, 1994). Despite this mission, research has indicated that in the United States there has been a disassociation Catholics from their faith (Pew, 2008, 2014; Smith and Denton, 2005; St. Mary’s Press and CARA, 2018). Programming was developed to encourage youths’ faith development and their active membership in the Catholic Church (Denton and Smith, 2005; USCCB, 1997). One program, pilgrimages, has seen an increase in participants across the world (Cleary, 2017; Harris, 2010, Rymarz, 2008). This mixed-method study sought to explore the motivations and influence of the Assisi pilgrimage on participants from St. Bonaventure High School (pseudonym). The Assisi Pilgrim Survey, an 18 item survey consisting of questions about demographics, religiosity utilizing questions from the National Study of Youth and Religion (2002), and open ended questions were distributed to current students who went (n=24). Race, socio-economic status, and religiosity data were used for purposeful sampling. Eight students participated in semi-structured interviews, in which they also provided photos from their pilgrimage. The study found that the pilgrims had tourist motivations, social motivations, religious motivations, and Franciscan motivations for attending the pilgrimage. It also found that a number of external factors such as money and family played a role in their desire to attend. Students described their experience as affording them the opportunity to connect to both peers and adults during free time, being able to understand more and to relate better to the person of St. Francis by visiting places connected to his life and the Franciscan movement, as well as participating in a number of structured activities that influenced their faith. This study suggests that pilgrimage was an influential campus ministry program to pilgrims of different backgrounds, and religiosity in a positive way. It affirms the use of pilgrimages as programming alongside retreats and service trips. However, it was found that Campus Ministry programming needs to addresses the needs of students in their day-to-day context, as well as, to develop more resources to allow more marginalized students to attend.