By Fr. Santo Arrigo, C.Ss.R.
The Year of Jubilee for the 150th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to public veneration continues to be a year of celebration and inspiration for the faithful to express their confidence in Mary as she continues to lead us to Christ, her Son and be for us an intercessor in our times of need and our model of Christian discipleship.
On April 26, 1866, the Original Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was brought in procession from the Church of St. Mary Major in Rome to the Church of St. Alphonsus, thus restoring the Icon to public veneration for the faithful in Rome and throughout the world.
150 years later, Redemptorists and the faithful took to the streets of Toronto to process with the beloved image of our Mother from St. Michael’s Cathedral to St. Patrick’s Church, the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Setting out from the Cathedral, the procession travelled along Dundas Street, through Yonge and Dundas Square, Bay Street, University Avenue all the way to McCaul Street to the front steps of St. Patrick’s Church.
Led by the Redemptorist Novices, and the Knights of Columbus, several groups and organizations from around Toronto joined in the procession, including the Legion of Mary, Kolping Society, St. Patrick’s Senior’s Club, Confraternita Termitana, as well as the St. Mary’s Portuguese Bandado Senhor Santo Cristo. We welcomed about 1,500 people in our procession from around the Greater Toronto Area and as far as Windsor, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. The Icon was carried by Fr. Mark Miller C.Ss.R, Provincial Superior, accompanied by Bishop John Pazak C.Ss.R., Bishop for the Slovak Byzantine Catholic Community in Canada, and Redemptorists and guest clergy.
Upon the arrival at St. Patrick’s Church, the procession entered the church to begin the celebration of Mass. Fr. Mark Miller presided and Bishop John Pazak was our homilist.
Our celebration in Toronto, echoed in celebrations and processions throughout the world, was a testimony of the love shown by the people of God to Mary our Mother through this beloved Icon. Her presence in the lives of the faithful throughout the world has truly fulfilled the call of Pope Pius IX to the Redemptorists to make Her known throughout the world.
At St. Patrick’s we continue to welcome the faithful each week for 6 Novena Masses with Devotions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation as well as function as an active and dynamic Faith Community through the Parish each weekend.
We will continue to celebrate this Jubilee Year of the 150th Anniversary through talks on Sundays and Wednesdays and look forward to the Novena Triduum June 27-29, 2016 where we will welcome over 1,000 pilgrims each evening with our Celebrant and Preacher, Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R. from Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese in Alberta.
We give thanks to Mary Our Mother for her continued intercession and care for all the faithful who turn to her in their need, being sheltered under the mantle of her love.