Rosaries jangled and legs pumped as 30 pilgrims walked 14 kilometres from the Shrine of the Holy Innocents, Kellyville to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
Competition and physical fitness were not the purpose of this walk; there was a palpable sense of peace and joy as this group celebrated the glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The pilgrimage began in the Chapel of the Shrine with noon Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother Mary, celebrated by Fr Gerard Lofranco OFM Conv.
VIEW: images from the Assumption Pilgrimage below or click here.
Set in Kellyville, the beautiful Shrine features a stunning iconographic mural of Christ the Teacher, the Virgin Mary, St Maximilian Kolbe and mosaics of Our Lady, St Francis and St Clare created by the renowned Bulgarian artist Theodore Velin.
The pilgrims set out after Mass, carrying banners for Our Lady and Our Lord.
Fr Gerard blessed the group before they departed together and Br Dominic cried out over the megaphone: “Never get tired of loving Our Lady!”
Jean Robinson has walked the pilgrimage annually since it began six years ago and has had prayers for her family answered.
“My first walk was especially for him and after the first week he was back at Church. He hadn’t been to Church for 12 years,” Jean said.
“The Blessed Mother answered my prayers. This year my husband’s very ill and I’m surrendering him to Our Blessed Mother for Her to pray to Our Lord.”
Jean found great joy while carrying the banner of Our Lady in a previous year.
“The tears were just rolling down my eyes it was like the Holy Spirit had just come over me. It was just the most beautiful feeling just carrying the banner.”
Jean has worn the same Miraculous Medal each year of the pilgrimage.
Passing trucks and cars noticed the group with its banners walking along the busy western Sydney roads.
They prayed rosaries, litanies and chaplets along the way, taking breaks at St Michael’s Church, Baulkham Hills and St Monica’s Parish, North Parramatta, where the pilgrims were generously provided with an early dinner of Chinese cuisine.
The Assumption Pilgrims arrived at St Patrick’s Cathedral at 6.15pm, in time for the Solemn Mass celebrated by Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta. Pilgrims attended this Mass if they had not been to Fr Gerard’s midday Mass at the Shrine.
The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a Holy Day of Obligation in Australia, meaning all Catholics must attend Mass if it is possible for them to do so.
Bishop Vincent is also a member of the Conventual Franciscans and a former parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary, Kellyville.
Ana Stipic was a first timer on the Assumption pilgrimage.
“It was an amazing experience, very relaxing. No feeling for hunger or pain, so it’s very relaxing and very rewarding as well,” Ana said.
Ana heartily recommends the pilgrimage to all who are interested.
“I would strongly suggest that they do it. If they can’t do the full walk they can take the bus into Parramatta,” she said.
Br Dominic Levak OFM Conv organised the pilgrimage, inspired by his experience of Assumption pilgrimages in his native Croatia.
“Over there millions of people do that every Assumption,” Br Dominic said.
Br Dominic’s hometown of Virovitica has a large pilgrimage to the Shrine of Vocin and one of the largest Assumption pilgrimages in Croatia is to the Shrine of Knin.
“In Australia we say it’s a Holy Day of Obligation but who takes it seriously? I thought we could do better.”
Br Dominic thanked St Michael’s Church, Baulkham Hills and St Monica’s Parish, North Parramatta for their support and hospitality.