By John Paul Lichon
Founder, Verso Ministries

The Hawaiian people have this beautiful saying to “talk story” with friends and family, new and old.  Grabbing coffee with a friend or sharing a long meal and chatting about life’s ups-and-downs is talking story.  But many times, you can talk story with a new friend at the grocery store or the gas station, sharing a few moments to indulge in meaningful conversation.  What might seem like small talk is in fact talking story – it’s about genuinely encountering, however brief or prolonged, another person.

I remember a couple months ago a friend Mike did an icebreaker with a small group meeting each other for the first time.  Instead of just introducing ourselves by name, Mike invited each of us to share an interesting story about our names.  Personally, John Paul comes from a combination of my Uncle John, our family friend Paul, and of course, being a Polish Catholic like the beloved Pope John Paul II.  That simple wrinkle on an introduction offered a glimpse into my family life and a providential name that has clearly shaped my life.

"Talking story" is central to a pilgrimage.  A pilgrim opens herself up for genuine, meaningful, and sacred encounters - conversations, if you will - with holy sites, with foreign peoples and cultures, and ultimately with the person of God.

This blog, "Verso L'Alto," will be a collection of stories from the pilgrimage of life. The stories will be real, raw, and authentic. The blog will feature the joys, challenges, triumphs, sorrows, sites, spectacles, intricacies, beauty, and even the mundane of pilgrimage. The hope is that through talking story we can all better recognize God alive and at work in the world today.

Beginning in January 2017, "Verso L'Alto" will first feature the story of the forming and launching of Verso Ministries. From recounting my experience at World Youth Day where I truly felt like Pope Francis was speaking to me (no joke), to the ridiculous list of potential names of the new venture (which included things like "Blistered Souls Pilgrimage Company" and "Fallen Cow Ministries"), and the spectrum of reactions I get when I tell people I started my own pilgrimage company, join me as I take you into the heart and soul of this new adventure.

The pilgrimage for Verso Ministries has taken its first steps - now it's your turn to join us!