The 103rd Annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes
The 103rd Annual Pilgrimage to The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes was held on August 9th of 2020. A mass dedicated to the Feast of The Assumption of Mary was celebrated by resident priest Fr. ChinhVu, along with Fr. Parker Love, Fr. Vladimir Simunovic, and Deacon Andrew Lindenbach for a modest crowd of over one hundred faithful pilgrims.
We were blessed with a warm, sunny day and a refreshing breeze with gusts of wind reaching 60 km/h. According to one 93-year-old guest, who has attended each Annual Pilgrimage since 1927, “The weather was perfect.”. Some guests who spent most of the mass wrapping tightly in blankets and securing their hats from blowing off may not have necessarily agreed.
Despite the wind rustling the leaves most people were able to appreciate the inspired homily by Fr. Parker Love. He reminded us all that while none of us will be called like the Blessed Mother Mary to give birth to the Son of God, we are all invited by God to serve in our own way and should be attentive to His call. Fr. Parker Love also emphasized that the call God will make to a mother in Egypt will be vastly different than the call to a mother here in Saskatchewan, where we all may freely practice our faith without fear. His message encourages us all to be understanding of the struggles our Christian brothers and sisters face all around the world, as well as to keep a vigilant, open heart, always ready and willing to receive the word of God.
This year’s Pilgrimage was an extraordinary undertaking due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has affected us all in many ways. We were forced to raise the unfortunate question of if we would have to cancel the Annual Pilgrimage for the first time in 102 years. Fr. ChinhVu promptly assured us that if the provincial government would allow it, we would undoubtedly host the Pilgrimage following any necessary restrictions. He encouraged us by gentle reminder that if even one pilgrim attends the mass that it will be worth it.
The constantly changing requirements from the provincial government meant that we were unable to begin planning six months ahead of time like usual. Thanks to the hard work of the people of Saskatchewan the phases of re-opening began in time for us to have just over two weeks of preparation to organize the Pilgrimage within the new guidelines. Without having to work on supplying a meal, we focused on ensuring we had adequate supplies of masks and hand sanitizer, as well as enough volunteers to help physically distance the benches in the grotto and complete registration information for all guests. Fr. ChinhVu and his concelebrants, along with our dedicated volunteers and every pilgrim who showed their support this year and, in the past, is what made our 103rd Annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes possible. We appreciate everyone’s support and participation and we look forward to seeing everyone again next year on the second Sunday of August.
Author: Stephanie Vukman
Vice—president of SPHS