By Bertilla Watanabe
Jubilation and high numbers on the UV index marked Our Lady’s feast day celebrations and Marian Consecration in Vancouver in June. Coming together for the special 4pm Mass were two archbishops, priests from our neighbouring parishes, a full choir with visiting musicians, the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus in capes, swords and feathers and a church full of happy people.
The main celebrant was Archbishop Michael Miller with homilist, Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, who concluded his series of meditations on the Hail Mary begun at the Mission Triduum earlier in the week.
The lively Mass was followed by a procession to the newly installed shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It was only last June when we had a special grotto built on the north lawn of our parish grounds for a Marian shrine on that side of the church. Another shrine of Our Blessed Mother? Yes, just in case you didn’t already know that we have a special affection for her! This time, we did not go seeking Our Blessed Mother…she sought us.
The new bronze sculpture of Our Lady was originally purchased and installed at the Gardens of Gethsemani Cemetery. For a variety of reasons, the Gardens felt it was not suited to their needs and contacted us to ask if we would accept it as a gift. Fr Babu, our pastor, pondered the matter for a while and decided, yes, she would be quite happy here on the grounds of our parish.
The timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous. It arrived with just enough time for repair and installation for our feast day. Parts of the statue had oxidized and needed restoration. The task of bringing back some of its original shine went to new parishioner and Knights of Columbus member, Gustavo Guerrero, from Columbia who is an artist and art restorer. By that Saturday, it was all done and ready for the Feast day celebrations.
The shrine is set in a mini-garden of hostas, fuschia and silvery greens next to the Parish Office. Archbishop Miller blessed the statue and said the Prayer of Consecration of Canada to Mary. OLPH Parish was among the earliest parishes consecrated to Our Lady to mark the 150th anniversary of the nation’s history. The Consecration was timed to take place on our Feast Day celebrations and shrine blessing on June 25 a week before Canada Day.
Children of Our Lady’s School sang the old favourite Immaculate Mary while parishioners followed along. After Grace was prayed, everyone made their way to the front lawn of the rectory for dinner and potluck desserts. It was a lovely close to a blessed day!