When my great-nephew was five-and-a-half years old, I praised him for being exceptionally well behaved at his grandmother’s wake at the funeral home. I told him how good he was and how proud we were of him. His response was, “You know, I get way too much appreciation.”
In these days when it seems that negativity and competition are sometimes too evident, I wonder if there is such a positive as “too much appreciation.” I can’t image that we can ever be too grateful for the goodness in our lives, that which comes from God above and that which we extend to each other. Since the summer is flying by so quickly and Pilgrimage will soon be here, I have to reflect on how thankful we Sisters are for this most blessed extraordinary event in the life of our Church and in the life of anyone who ever came as a pilgrim for the past 83 years.
It cannot be said that the Pilgrimage began as an accident, but it certainly seems that it was not specifically planned for. On Sept. 3, 1934, Labor Day, about 3,000 faithful came by trains, chartered buses and cars for the blessing of the newly acquired home of the Sisters at Mount St. Macrina. Many had gathered at St. John church on the other side of town, and they came in procession through the city of Uniontown carrying banners. Forty-two priests joined Bishop Basil Takach in the Divine Liturgy preceding the blessing.
Probably heartened by this response of the clergy and faithful, Bishop Basil. with the permission of the Holy See and the enthusiastic support of the Sisters, decided to hold annual pilgrimages at Mount St. Macrina. This would also provide an opportunity for spreading devotion to the Mother of God under her title as Our Lady of Perpetual Help, as Holy Father Pius XI requested of the Sisters.
Now, 84 years later, we prepare to gather again for this Pilgrimage weekend which has held special significance for so many, and which has maintained a strong impact on the Byzantine Catholic Church in America. How could we not be grateful without limit for this blessing as we thank our Lord and His Mother for this gift to us? We thank them for all who came during these many years: the earliest pilgrims who were comforted as they remembered the Pilgrimages they left behind at home in Eastern Europe and who were here able to be reunited with friends and relatives who now lived in different parts of America; the many who came year after year, during times good and bad, making it a part of their lives; and to all who now travel here.
We sincerely appreciate our hierarchs, priests, deacons and seminarians for leading us in the incomparably beautiful prayer of our Church. Their presence enables us to grow in the “where two or three who are gathered in my name,” and to participate in the fullness of the Life of the Church.
We are ever thankful for the countless volunteers and helpers who make it possible for the Pilgrimage to continue in all of the practical ways that we see. We could not be more grateful for that which we cannot see: the prayers that are offered here, and for the blessings, both those which are received and those which will be brought by each one who attends the 84th Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Mt. St. Macrina. Please come to receive the blessings that await, to share the blessing that you bring, and to join us as we attempt to express “way too much appreciation.”