Cuddy spreads God’s mercy step by step, coast to coast
BY TERRY DICKSON
PASCAGOULA – During the Jubilee of Mercy, Catholics are called to live out God’s loving Mercy by extending it to everyone they meet.
When it comes to answering that call, Dylan Cuddy is not only talking the talk, he’s also walking the walk – all the way from Florida to California.
Cuddy, 24, a native of Walpole, Massachusetts decided to observe the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy by embarking on what he describes as a “pilgrimage of mercy” from St. Augustine to Los Angeles.
“On December 8 of last year, the pope declared a Year of Mercy and I decided to heed the call,” said Cuddy, speaking from Sacred Heart Church on the 47th day of that pilgrimage.
“I always had a yearning for travel and it was in high school that I wanted to cross the country on foot.”
However, Cuddy didn’t think it was possible.
“I had a job, I had a car payment and I had to pay rent. All these things were weighing me down,” said Cuddy, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Medway, Massachusetts.
“It was after learning about a man named Ernie Andrus, a 92 year-old WWII veteran who’s running across America to raise money for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day that I decided to do this. I saw something in Ernie and he became sort of a hero to me. I drew a lot of inspiration from him. In my eyes, Ernie was doing the impossible.”
So, thought Cuddy, if 92 year-old Andrus could do it, so could a young man in his 20s.
Cuddy, who had fallen away from the Church, returned home on Divine Mercy Sunday 2015.
“I was born a Catholic and I was led astray, but I returned to the Church and kind of turned over that desire to cross the country back to God,” said Cuddy.
After spending time in prayer, Cuddy decided he should make the journey in the name of God’s mercy.
“So here I am in Pascagoula, Mississippi,” said Cuddy, who started his trek by visiting the Cathedral of St. Augustine, which was built over 500 years ago.
He’s since visited many churches and entered several Holy Doors. He’s also experienced God’s mercy firsthand through his interactions with strangers.
Many of those stories can be read on Cuddy’s blog, mercyrun.com, which started off as a way for the young man to keep in touch with friends and family members, some of whom questioned his sanity when declared his intentions to walk cross country.
“I experience the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy on almost a daily basis,” said Cuddy, who camped out at the church overnight and was slated to continue his journey two days later, due to rain.
“Lots of people give me food and drink. This morning, after a Communion service, some of the folks here brought me over to the activity center for coffee and cake. The previous night, a man named Kenny pulled over in his truck and asked me if I need a hot meal. I said I did and he brought me into his shop and gave me some deer roast. It was really good. It was delicious.”
Cuddy has also been very generous with his possessions, often giving things away to people less fortunate than himself.
Cuddy, who is unemployed, had originally hoped to arrive in Los Angeles in 120 days.
“It’s been a little slower than that,” he said. So I think that anywhere from six to eight months is more realistic. But I’m open to any time period. It could be a year. I think I’ve been making some good ground so far.”
Cuddy has accepted a few rides along the way.
“I usually don’t accept a ride unless I need it, like it it’s severe weather or something,” he said.
I accepted a ride in Mobile, Alabama. I was on the east side of the Bankhead Tunnel and there was no shoulder. So, the Department of Transportation picked me up and gave me a ride through the tunnel. So, the next morning – I don’t know if it’s my stubbornness or whatever – but I just doubled over the bridge and made sure I got all my miles back.”
Andrus will be completing his journey in August in Brunswick, Georgia and Cuddy would like to be there to see him finish. The two are Facebook friends and chat regularly.
He may write a book about his experience.
One thing’s for sure, however, it’s an experience he’ll never forget.
“The Year of Mercy has opened up my heart a lot. I can feel my heart again for the first time in years,” he said.
“When it comes to God’s mercy, it flows both ways. It’s not just people giving me a meal, drink or place to stay. It’s also sharing a meal with a homeless person and it’s really been a unique thing. Society tells me to stay away from these people on the street – poor people, homeless people or drug addicts – but, just being on this journey, I’ve been living amongst them and it’s been very eye-opening and it’s been a humbling experience.”