By Carmen Moore, Parishioner
On February 7, our parish decided to encourage people to come out of the cold and into the warmth for a local pilgrimage to celebrate and reflect upon the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The theme of the evening was “Know My Son as I Do”. It was a wonderful success with the Holy Spirit working in the hearts and minds of the participants and volunteers.
Initially, our ‘pilgrims’ entered the Church to soft music led by our choir, received a tea light, felt a warm welcome and received a guide to the evening. Fr. Remi welcomed the pilgrims and through an opening prayer, explained the ‘why’ we were gathering to celebrate and delve into this icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, as well as informing participants of the evening’s structure. We had six ‘stations’ all set up around different parts of the church. (We are blessed with a large church building with ‘many rooms’ which we delineated out for certain presentations.) These stations all housed one speaker (a local parishioner) sharing on one the following aspects of the icon:
* The Falling Sandal
- The Faces of Jesus and Mary
- The Fringe of Mary’s Gown
- The Gaze of Mary – Human and Divine
- The Gentle Hands of a Mother
- Praying with Icons
- Prayers for Healing – a place set aside for the parish’s healing ministry to pray with participants as needed for personal healing/intentions as well.
The way that the evening was designed, there was a short explanation of each presentation in the booklet provided so that the pilgrims could choose three of the seven stations set up throughout the evening. Each presentation was fifteen minutes which included the presentation itself as well as some quiet reflection time aided by silence and questions if needed in the booklet to help guide the meditation or contemplation time. A soft bell was rung throughout the church after the fifteen minutes and the choir would begin the taize style song as the people began to slowly journey to their next stop on their personal yet communal pilgrimage. The evening ended with a communal gathering in the pews for prayer as pilgrims individually placed their lit tea light around the altar surrounding the beautifully displayed icon with an act of quiet veneration to the image. Father Remi led us in prayer and invited us to join in a social time and gathering set up for after the pilgrimage. It was agreed that this was a worthwhile way to spend a Sunday evening with Our Mother and Her Son, Jesus, as well as the faith community.