Joe Domina, a 30-year-old Catholic man from Indiana, made headlines when he revealed his plan to walk across America as a pilgrimage, visiting Catholic shrines and praying for the country. 

In a February 2024 interview with Miss-Lou Champions Spotlight, Domina revealed how this idea came about. 

“I went on a trip to the Holy Land about five years ago and that's kind of what started the idea," Domina began. "I was in ministry at the time in New Jersey and I went on this wonderful trip and I got to see all the places that Jesus walked around.

"You know they didn't have cars back then and He was walking with his disciples. There was a kind of a pace of life there that was really fascinating to me and I wanted to experience that a little bit.

"Ever since then, I've kind of just been thinking about it...So there's a lot of prayer, a lot of thought; I don't make decisions very quickly.”

“I feel like God has something for me in the midst of it," he continues. "If it comes up to preach or to share the Good News, I'm happy to do that, but I think that the most important thing (at least what God is calling me to) is praying for the country.”

Click here if you cannot see the video above.

Having no internet, he brought a flip phone, which he uses to text and call his mother as often as he can. He set out to visit different holy sites and attend Mass as often as possible. 

 “The first one was in Maryland, so I've already been there. The second one was in Alabama, so I went there right around the New Year. The next one is up in Oklahoma City, and then the last one is on the coast of California.”

Domina started at the Statue of Liberty and has been to seven states thus far: Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

He said he is praying for the country to "rely more on God and less on money."

"So it was really important for me to start with no money. I've just been living completely off the generosity of God and other people for five months now.” 

He shared that people who recognize him are quick to offer food, a place to rest, and prayers. For those who meet him, the hashtag #backpackerjoe on X (Formerly Twitter) is being used to share photos. 

On February 26th, an X user shared a message from Joe’s mother. 

Here's the text of the post:

“Today my son turns 30! Happy Birthday, Joey!

"Few people know that he is on a pilgrimage. This has been a calling for many years and he said 'Mom,  it’s time.' I am at peace with it and know he is answering God's call. He left late August from the Statue of Liberty and as of today is nearing Shreveport La. The stories, kindness, and faith he has had are overwhelming. He journals every day, so we will have stories forever. 

"When he left, he had his 50-pound backpack and no money. I begged him to take a flip phone and a few days' supply of food. Sharing the Gospel, praying with people, and atoning for his sins and those of America is his mission. He has many destinations, but moving from one Catholic Church to the next has been his plan.

"I could list 40 people who have sent me pictures of Him and shared their experiences about meeting him. Truly amazing, kind, loving, and generous people, priests, store owners, hotel operators, park rangers. One day in Louisiana, more than 50 People stopped him to talk and pray with him. 

"Thank you to all the amazingly generous and loving people he has met. He probably has another year to go, and hopes to end up in California. Thank you for your prayers and God Bless America.”

The same user shared additional photos of Domina:

Click here if you cannot see the video above.

Domina hopes to finish this pilgrimage by January in San Francisco. 

On Feb. 22, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana took to Facebook to share photos of Domina’s visit.

The post states, “This afternoon at approximately 3:00 pm, 'Backpacker Joe' was nearing Natchitoches as he visited and prayed for several motorists that stopped to speak to him while walking on La. Hwy 1 in Natchez. 

"He wanted to thank everyone that has stopped, prayed with him, and given him words of encouragement and gifts as he continues his journey of faith. 

"'Backpacker Joe' as he likes to be called, handed out the Miraculous Medal designed by the Blessed Virgin Mary.'”

Let us pray for his safety and success! 

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