“Mary, Cause of Our Joy”

Faithful travel to mount St. Macrina for 85th annual pilgrimage.

A procession of pilgrims ends with a 4 p.m. Divine Liturgy Sept. 1 at Mount St. Macrina in Uniontown, Pa. during the 85th annual Pilgrimage in Honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
This year’s theme was “Mary, Cause of Our Joy.” For more photos, see pages 6 to 9. Photo by David Mayernik Jr.

“Why do we have to do this? Why do we come for the Pilgrimage? Why do we pray, in particular, to the Mother of God?”

These questions were posed by Archbishop William Skurla to open the 85th annual Pilgrimage in Honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 at Mount St. Macrina in Uniontown, Pa. He also supplied an answer for the faithful gathered in the pews and sitting on rolling, grassy hills.

“Praying to the Mother of Perpetual Help has given us consolation. It’s one of the most effective ways of engaging the mercies of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Archbishop William told pilgrims over the generations, the Pilgrimage has been a way of preventing disaster and intervening in personal plights.

“We pray that the Mother of God will intercede not only in our own lives but in the lives of those that have fallen astray. That they become people who are more attuned to the mercies of God in their life; that they open their hearts to the goodness that can come from each and every person that is alive today.”

Pilgrimage weekend included Divine Liturgies, opportunities to receive the Mystery of Reconciliation, Children’s Pilgrimages, enrichment sessions, and a candlelight procession beginning and ending at the Mother of God Shrine.

Sister Ruth Plante, Provincial, also welcomed faithful to the 85th Pilgrimage and explained this year’s theme, “Mary, Cause of Our Joy.” “‘Joy’ is not the same as ‘happy.’ ‘Happy’ is an ice cream cone or a new toy for a child or maybe a new car or a new iPhone for an adult…then you need something else to restore your ‘happy’,” she said.

“Joy, on the other hand, is a gift of the Holy Spirit. And it emanates from deep down inside of us. Joy is what allows the martyrs to sing and praise the Lord as they were being led to their deaths. Joy is something we’ve all seen in individuals who perhaps have gone through all kinds of illness and trials and difficulties. And yet
always walk with a smile on their face and want to know, ‘What can I do for you?'”

Sister Ruth said when pilgrims pray during Pilgrimage weekend, they are praying for ‘joy’.” “We pray that as you walk these grounds this weekend, you do so as a pilgrim, not as a tourist, just zipping by. But as a pilgrim and you stop at all the holy places and you recall your joy, your sadness, your difficulties, your blessings and your challenges and you ask the Lord and His Mother, ‘What am I to learn from this?

“And then you can go forward with that spirit of joy which will be alive and well deep in your soul and will be shown in your kindness and care for everyone around you.