CORMAC – At least 2,000 pilgrims from all across Ontario and beyond gathered at the Shrine of St. Ann for the 74th annual pilgrimage on July 29.
The shrine, which pays devotion to the Grandmother of Jesus, was erected in the 1930’s in Cormac because the church was centrally situated in the diocese. Over the years, people from eastern Ontario and western Quebec gather at the shrine for the annual outdoor pilgrimage.
Much like years prior, Bishop of Pembroke Michael Mulhall led the 11:00 a.m. mass with Archibishop Terrence Prendergast as the principal celebrant and homilist.
A processional led by priests, altar servers, and the Knights of Columbus Honour Guard began the mass. Anna Schroeder of Eganville and Bardella Kelly of Cormac carried the St. Ann’s banner to the altar.
Members of the Disocesan Community Choir led the procession in song, beginning with a hymn called To Kneel at Thine Altar. The choir consists of choir members and instrumentalists from local parishes in the area.
Bishop Mulhall welcomed everyone in attendance and thanked all those that helped organize the event. He also thanked those who made the journey to the shrine.
“Your evident testimony of faith…is a great support for everyone here present,” he said.
Mulhall said everyone who makes the pilgrimage essentially builds each other up.
“We preach to each other by our words and by our presence here, as we bring so many needs and so many acts and gestures of thanksgiving for graces that we have received in the past. Your presence here is a testimony of a faith which is alive and a Lord who is inspiring all of us with the desire for holiness and a life beyond this life that we experience,” he said.
He also spoke about how pilgrimages bring people closer to God.
“When we come to place where a saint is venerated and a saint is an intercessor for intentions that we bring in our daily life – for ourselves, for our loved ones, for our community and our church – we are bringing a desire that is in our hearts,” he said.
Mulhall said the greatest fault is to never recognize those desires and never bring those desires to light. That is why, he said, it is important to attend the pilgrimages.
“It acts like this: the physical acts of walking and being somewhere on a pilgrimage, and bringing intentions we have formed in our hearts. The Lord then takes them and allows them to flourish in us,” Mulhall explained.
Story continues in the August 1 issue of The Valley Gazette.