FNE 2012 Pilgrimage - One to remember for years to come!

FNE Pilgrimage – 2012 – to Cornwall, Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston

Definition of a Pilgrimage- A journey to a sacred place 

 

The vast majority of Pilgrimages offered throughout the world are aimed primarily to those who are retired or about to be retired or to young adults for large special events such as World Youth Day.

Are Pilgrimages even suitable for the younger crowd ages 8 to 15?

Would children’s attention spans be adequate enough for them to actively participate in and benefit from a Pilgrimage?

Are children even interested in a Pilgrimage… are they interested in venturing into a series of unique churches and lastly are they even interested in our Catholic faith practices such as Holy Mass, Confession, Eucharistic Adoration and prayers such as the Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy?

For answers to these and other questions read on…. dear readers you may be surprised with the story as it unfolds below.

Commencing at 3.00 p.m. on Thursday August 9 through to 11.00 pm on Sunday August 12 we travelled better than 1,500 km with some 25 timber wolves, explorers, plus 3 leaders and one Priest commencing with Holy Mass at our home parish – Blessed Trinity in Toronto.

 

Father Matthias Kim celebrated the private Mass for our Pilgrims and a number of their parents… his message through his homily was clear… we could embark on this Pilgrimage either as a tourist and see many neat and beautiful things, take pictures, share stories and have good meals together OR we could go as a Pilgrim on our journey through life to one day meet the Lord in heaven at the end of our earthly journey.

We could go on this Pilgrimage to see what would happen or we could go on this Pilgrimage with a purpose, an intention, a reason, with a special request to present to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit… what would it be?

Father Mathias was very animated, dynamic, and passionate such that watching the boy’s body language you could see the message sinking in as they pondered as to what they would offer up their Pilgrimage for.

Our timber wolves and explorers served Mass with great care and precision undertook the various readings with a clear voice and with meaning and sang songs in praise and adoration as they would for all of our Private Masses that we would participate in throughout the Pilgrimage.

 

 We would dare say that from the very start of our Pilgrimage we could already sense and perhaps even feel the Holy Spirit at work, his work would become much more pronounced and recognizable as our time together grew.

The climax of the Mass as it always is … is to receive the Sacred Body and the Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ happily and with reverence on our knees and on our tongue. 

By 4.30 p.m. we commenced our travels by bidding the parents goodbye and heading off on the road to our first destination the Legionaries of Christ seminary in Cornwall. Rush hour traffic on highway 401 was not too bad… we stopped for dinner at a highway rest stop near Cornwall and arrived right on schedule at the seminary for 9.45 p.m.

After piling out of our vehicles our host and Pilgrimage guide was there to welcome and great us in the very person of Father Thomas Murphy LC who has worked with us for better than 3 years and who knew each and every timber wolf and explorer by name.

Once settled in with our baggage in the seminary gym on cots we gathered in one of the classrooms to have a closer look at the program for the Pilgrimage and to hold a detailed discussion building on the homily that afternoon… why are you here and do you have an intention or two to offer up during our Pilgrimage now underway.

By 11.45 pm we were all tucked into out beds with lights out with an early morning start as we had a busy day planned.

Friday August 10

6.20 a.m. arrived all too soon. As leaders we like to be able to encourage the boys to rise and shine… with little difficulty (for some of the older boys it was really hard to wake up) they got up out of bed and dragged their just waking selves off to the showers to get refreshed before getting back into their uniforms to prepare for the days program. By 7.00 a.m. we neatly entered the dining hall to eat a hearty breakfast after our grace before meals prayers

 

followed by cleaning away the dishes, wiping off the tables, pushing in the chairs and returning the various breakfast condiments before heading off to a classroom for our daily talk and question and answer period.

This morning’s discussion focused around the effect of sin, even what is viewed to be a little sin and how one’s personal sin can impact others directly or indirectly in so many ways. This was followed by jointly brainstorming areas where perhaps we may have fallen short, where we may have broken one or more of the 10 commandments (e.g. thy shall not kill is not just limited to the body but to a person’s sense of self-worth) so that we can all better prepare ourselves for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Confession) that would be made available over the next couple of days to all of us participating in this Pilgrimage.

 

 

Before heading off we took a break to enjoy the games room… and boy what fun this was!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first step was to visit the shrine of Blessed Kateri at St. Francis of Xavier Church in a native Canadian town called Kahnawake a 90 minute drive from where we were staying along the great St. Lawrence River.

It was amazing to see this great river, a river that is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin. The St. Lawrence River traverses the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario and forms part of the international boundary between Ontario and New York in the United States. The river runs 3,058 km (1,900 mi) from the farthest headwater to the mouth and 1,197 km (743.8 mi) from the outflow of Lake Ontario. This river was and is a major waterway for trade and exploration of the new world long before Canada became a country in 1867.

The weather forecast called for heavy rains for all of Friday – 40 to 60 mm of rain… yet for us…it was just overcast and a comfortable 23 degrees C – an unexpected and welcome start to our day!

This church St. Francis of Xavier Church was no ordinary church…. It housed the tomb of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha who will be declared a Saint by Pope Benedict 16th on November 2nd 2012 in Rome. We learned that little Tekakwitha’s life was a happy one at first, living with her parents and baby brother with their Mohawk people. Then smallpox (brought from Europe by the early settlers) arrived in their village, and many people died of this sickness. Tekakwitha survived with many scars and ugly markings on her body and face but her family did not. As she grew up, she found hope and strength in the stories her mother had told her about Jesus the Great Spirit. When Tekakwitha was ready, she told the priest from France who was living in her village that she wanted to become a Catholic. Even though her people did not like her following the ways of the Europeans, she knew in her heart that God was calling her. On the day of her baptism, she received a new name: Kateri, which means Catherine.

 

Photo above the main altar in the St. Francis of Xavier Church

When the people of her village rejected her, she went on a long journey to a Christian village where she could live her faith openly. The people there could see that she loved God very much, and felt that God was with her. She suffered much but never gave up on the teachings of our faith and following Jesus and to carry her cross well… a wonderful message for us Pilgrims to ponder and take to heart as we to strive to love and follow Jesus and to carry our own crosses well.

 

While at this beautiful church we took the time to sing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and to pray in front of the tomb of Blessed (soon the first native North-American Saint) Kateri to ask for her intercession with the Lord as to the intentions of each timber wolf, explorer and leader on this Pilgrimage.

Chaplet Prayers in song

Praying at the tomb of Blessed Kateri below...

 

 

Father Thomas started to hear the first of a series of confessions where our boys can unburden themselves of their sins through the mercy and forgiveness and love of our Lord Jesus Christ himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments from our boys… Joshua… I learned about Kateri as to how she suffered by sacrificing herself for God… Misha… this experience and others amazed me that I now desire to pray more…

Next stop – Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal acclaimed by many as the most stunning and beautiful church in North-America! The main construction work took place between 1824 and 1829. The cornerstone was laid at Place d"Armes on September 1, 1824. The sanctuary was finished in 1830, and the first tower in 1841, the second in 1843. On its completion, the church was the largest in North America. On May 31, 2000 the provincial state funeral for former Montreal Canadiens superstar Maurice "Rocket" Richard was held in front of thousands, both inside and outside the Basilica. On October 3, 2000 Justin Trudeau gave his eulogy just steps from the High Altar during the state funeral of Pierre Trudeau, his father and Canada's 15th prime minister. It was also the setting of Celine Dion's December 17, 1994 wedding to René Angélil.

 

This visit would not be an ordinary visit…. We were truly blessed to be greeted by the Organist for Notre Dame Basilica himself – Pierre Grandmaison who took us on a private behind the scenes tour … and what a tour it would be!

The timber wolves, explorers, leaders and Father Thomas sat enthralled as Pierre explained the workings of the organ and the thousands of pipes measuring from 1/4 of an inch to 32 feet tall… he demonstrated the various ranges of notes and then played the organ for us with such grace and confidence. Installed in the chapel is a French classic organ with traditional mechanical action, built by the firm of Guilbault-Thérien of Sainte-Hyacinthe (1982).

The great organ that towers over the choir loft of the Basilica was built in 1891 by the firm of Casavant et Frères of Saint-Hyacinthe. Since then, the vast instrument has undergone several restorations. To mark its 100th anniversary, additional stops were installed, bringing the total number of pipes to 7,000.

In 2002 a second trompette en chamade (outward facing trumpet) stop was added. The organ today has 92 stops distributed over four keyboards and a pedalboard. The present console dates from 1962.

Lesson learned… it takes much perseverance and practice day after day, week after week to be truly successful.. the same applies to the practice of our faith, we need to persevere in embracing the sacraments, to pray daily, to trust in God… failure to do so will leave us open to potentially grave temptations and a loss of grace and over time perhaps even our faith itself.

 

Organ demonstration for FNE timber wolves and explorers:

 

Playing a famous musical item on the Organ by Bach

 

From there Pierre lead us on a private tour of the church to view up close and personal the main altar. The centre of the altarpiece, placed directly over the high altar, represents Calvary. Beneath the altar, the image of the Last Supper appears – a magnificent wood sculpture based on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous mural – representing the institution of the Eucharist on the eve of Christ’s suffering and death.

 

In the centre is the Tabernacle, flanked by bas-relief sculptures in wood showing angels and saints in adoration, according to the vision described in Chapter 7 of the Apocalypse (Revelation).

We then visited the Chapel of Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur that was totally restored After the disastrous fire in Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur Chapel on December 7, 1978, the board of the Fabrique, at the architects’ suggestion, decided on a complete restoration of the chapel’s first two levels. A team of carpenters, sculptors and woodworkers skilled in traditional methods was assembled to carry out the work. The vaulted ceiling, however, received a modern treatment, making full use of available natural light. The entire work is crafted in linden wood. The restored chapel was opened in 1982.

 

The altarpiece - The Quebec sculptor Charles Daudelin was commissioned to create the new altarpiece. This consists of 32 bronze panels, which were cast by Morris Singer Founders of London, England. The altarpiece is 5 metres wide and 8 metres high (16 feet by 26 feet) and weighs 20 tons.

 

The theme chosen by the artist shows the march of humankind toward God, represented in the form of the Holy Trinity: the Father symbolized by a shining sun, the Son by the head of Jesus and the Holy Spirit by an immense bird with extended wings. The three arches signify the difficult stages of life, the return of human beings to their Creator. The last arch represents the passage from this life to the next, illustrating at the same time the hope of eternal happiness.

Before leaving the Basilica we stopped off to visit the Jesus in the Tabernacle in a special glassed in area free from the many tourists and murmur to pray to the Lord to give thanks for this very special visit with him in his church. Quebecers certainly know how to construct such beautiful churches to honour our Lord and to call the people of the Lord together to pray and worship him – thank you God!

 

Comments from our timber wolves and explorers… from Andrew… going to Notre Dame was the best moment of this Pilgrimage, from Jin…Pierre played songs on the Organ and it was good, it is 15 to 20 years or training to master the Oragn – wow…

 

from Andy… Pierre told us that the organ has 7,000 tubes and smallest tube is ¼ of an inch and the biggest is 32 feet tall, … and from Joonho a timber wolf…

 

The pilgrimage changed me in many ways. My favorite part of this pilgrimage was when we visited Notre Dame … here there was beautiful frosted glasses, pictures of Jesus and his disciples on journeys to pilgrimages and holy trips. This church was beautiful. I think that it was the most amazing church that I have ever seen.

 

 

 

Many a boy commented about this particular visit and especially being with Pierre. At the end of the tour Pierre offered to do this again for us whenever we would return to Montreal in the future – thank you Pierre!

We stopped at a local park for our picnic style lunch (and YES the rain continued to hold off for us) and said Grace together:

Visit to St. Joseph Oratory was our next stop… and once again the rain largely held off… as we arrived the timber wolves and explorers remarked about the massive size of the structure and its beauty and scale!

 

In 1904, Saint André Bessette, C.S.C., began the construction of St. Joseph, a small chapel on the slopes of Mont Royal near Notre Dame College. Soon the growing number of visitors made it too small. Even though it was enlarged, a larger church was needed and in 1917 one was completed and has a seating capacity of 1,000. In 1924, the construction of the basilica of Saint Joseph's Oratory was inaugurated; it was finally completed in 1967.

The basilica is dedicated to Saint Joseph, to whom Brother André credited all his reported miracles. These were mostly related to some kind of healing power, and many pilgrims (handicapped, blind, ill, etc.) poured into his Basilica, including numerous Protestants. On display in the basilica is a wall covered with thousands of crutches from those who came to the basilica and were allegedly healed. Pope John Paul II deemed the miracles to be authentic and beatified Brother André in 1982. In October 2010 Pope Benedict XVI canonized the saint.

A reliquary in the church museum contains Brother André's heart, which he requested as a protection for the basilica. More than 2 million visitors and pilgrims visit the Oratory every year.

Upon arrival we quickly gathered at the base of the stairs and commenced our way up on our knees (called the stairs of pain by our boys)… the wooden covered steps were still wet with rain that largely fell prior to our arrival… so we elected to go up the “dry” concrete steps that added to the challenge … as one of the Explorers Mingu put it… This Pilgrimage was very special and different from other Pilgrimages for many different reasons… for example this year we prayed on the concrete stairs while it was lightly raining so it was harder to pray…from another boy… I really liked going up the steps so that we could share a little in the pain that Jesus went through for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got ¾ of the way up the steps when we had to stop to be on time for our private Mass in one of the side chapels. And what a special mass it was… one of the guides that was present was so impressed with our timber wolves and explorers that she returned to the chapel with a gift… a photo of St. Joseph for each member of our Pilgrimage group and also asked when we would be returning… the next time she said we would be welcome with advance arrangements to have Father celebrate or co-celebrate one of the public masses and to have a couple of our boys undertake the readings while others would serve as altar servers… this was a very kind and exciting offer.

 

After Holy Mass we ventured into the Oratory itself to light candles for our Pilgrimage Intention and/or for others or for special intentions such as the addition of leaders into our FNE movement both for our boys and girls side of the program.

 

We stopped off at the main altar tabernacle to pray and sing to the Lord and to give thanks for the many graces and gifts that the Lord has given us – and to chant from the bottom of our hearts… I love You Jesus!

Further comments from our timber wolves and explorers…Jordan a timber wolf… I really like the big church with the huge dome… it was awesome! This is my first pilgrimage and I really liked it a lot! From Justin a timber wolf… I liked it when we went to St. Joseph Oratory and when we lit candles there…and from Jin an explorer…I liked St. Joseph Oratory it was beautiful and I liked the Mass there because I know more about God and I liked Fathers blessing and I prayed for my family and from Michael another timber wolf who writes…

 

 

I liked St. Joseph because we had a private Mass and we got to see the tomb of St Brother Andrew and we got to light candles, this changed me because on the stairs of pain we suffered for Jesus while we were praying. And finally from one last timber wolf… The thing that moved me was the stairs of pain cause I felt a bit of Jesus’s pain which made ne happy to suffer some of Jesus’s pain. There are many comments from the others who participated along the same lines as quoted above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ended up the day by returning to Cornwall for a swim in the local area pool before returning to the seminary at 9.00 pm for dinner, reflections, prayers and off to bed.

 

 It was an awesome first day and a very busy one at that! Thank you Lord for the many blessings bestowed upon us this day.

Saturday August 11 2012

6.20 am arrived all too early as we dragged our tired bodies off into the showers, dress into our uniforms and be in the dining hall for a 7.00 am breakfast! This was followed with our morning talk and a little play time before heading off to our first destination of the day – St. Stanislaus Church in downtown Montreal for our private Mass.

 

This was a very beautiful and old church that we had to ourselves for our morning private Mass in the side chapel. Our timber wolves and explorers came alive by singing beautiful songs:

 

 

Throughout our private mass each one was viewed by the timber wolves and explorers to be very special -

 

and from Roy an Explorer… I really enjoyed private Mass and adoration. Thank you for providing this great opportunity to get close to God. From Daniel an Explorer… my special moment of this pilgrimage to me was the private Masses we had at different churches because I have done my first reading and also because we as a group having Mass is very special to me. We conclude all Masses by thanking the Lord in song -

Before departing the church we made a visit to the main altar to pray in front of the tabernacle to give thanks and to continue to ask the Lord for his Love, Graces and Protection while asking for the strength to do his will in our lives in the months and years yet to come.

 

We then departed for the Bio Dome in Montreal first to have lunch….and then to see nature up close and personal. We would not be disappointed as we could see and experience the beauty of many of the Lord’s creatures and plants.

As we exited the Biodome there was a simulation of being in a rain forest and going through a mid day thunderstorm... here are some of the boys reaction to said storms... boy what fun they had!

After such a successful and exciting visit we headed off to the beautiful Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament to participate in Eucharistic Adoration… when we got there unfortunately the main church was closed so we entered a smaller side chapel to adore the Lord.

 

Our timber wolves and explorers truly appreciate and love being in front of Jesus through adoration… it continues to amaze us how our boys on their own without prompting or encouragement from any of the leaders have this strong desire to go to confession… Father Thomas was very busy for the entire 90 minutes that we were there… as one of our Explorers explains it in his own words… My special moment during this pilgrimage was the adoration after confession. At the moment just before confession, I felt guiltier than ever before and felt a deeper passion to do better. After confession, I felt lighter; as if I knew I could sin lessand left stronger in my faith with Jesus. Although I wasn’t as attentive as I should have been during the pilgrimage I definitely left different during this experience.

 

From Michael an Explorer – the Pilgrimage was great but one event that touched me the most was when we had adoration… we prayed with a great deal of passion. From Roy an Explorer – I really enjoyed Eucharistic Adoration!

 

As one of our leaders left the chapel to help stream the boys to confession a lady exited the chapel and asked to speak to him… she said… Your boys are such holy boys, know this that I will pray for them and your movement every day for the rest of my life! Wow – what a beautiful gift!

 

While we were in Adoration the skies open, the wind blew, the rain bounced off the windows of the chapel… the boys did not notice… and just as we exited the chapel to walk back to our vehicles… the rain slowed to a light soft rain and had largely stopped by the time we reached our cars.

We now headed back to the seminary in Cornwall arriving at 8.00 pm for dinner, then written testimonies that we have used throughout this story and then watching the movie the Incredibles before falling into bed for a well-deserved night’s sleep.

Sunday August 12

Guess what… 6.20 am rolled around all too soon as we dragged our tires selves off to the showers, into uniform and in for a hot breakfast for 7.15 am! We ate to our hearts content sausages and eggs and fruit before holding our final morning discussion on the day’s gospel from John 6:41-51

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said,
"I am the bread that came down from heaven,"
and they said,
"Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?
Do we not know his father and mother?
Then how can he say,
'I have come down from heaven?'"
Jesus answered and said to them,
"Stop murmuring among yourselves.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

This was a beautiful Gospel well suited for a major theme of our Pilgrimage… to better understand and appreciate the true meaning of the Blessed Sacrament – the Eucharist – Jesus truly present in his living body and blood.

 

Father Thomas read this Gospel to our timber wolves and explorers before holding a solid discussion as to the true meaning of the Eucharist and how this truth is hard to take and how this truth keeps many away from the Catholic faith and how this truth is the center of our faith as without this Sacrament and that of Confession / Reconciliation our Catholic faith would be seriously compromised.

By 8.30 am we bid good bye to Father Thomas as we headed off to the City of Ottawa for the last phase of our Pilgrimage.

We arrived in plenty of time to attend the 11.00 am Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Basilica in Ottawa.

 

 

It is here that we were once again warmly welcomed and enjoyed Mass including the traditional use of the communion railing to receive Holy Communion on our knees and tongue - this made us all very happy!

It is from this parish that we hope to start up our first FNE Explorer group in Ottawa. While there a remarkable number of families approached us to enquire how their son or daughter might be able to join our FNE Explorer program. While also there our new FNE leader and one of our other leaders was approached by the spouse of a local MP who offered to assist us in any reasonable way possible to successfully start up our new FNE group. We really felt the Holy Spirit at work…

 

After Mass we enjoyed lunch in the church basement before departing off to Kanata to enjoy a swim in their wave pool. We had an awesome time.

 

Soon we were on our way to Kingston to attend the Adoration chapel at St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral… during our one hour visit to Jesus in the St. James Chapel one of the other worshipers approached us to express her happiness to see our timber wolves and explorers love Jesus the way that they do that she wants to make homemade rosaries and scapula’s for each and every member of our movement in Canada… amazing and how kind and what a gift!

After our very special time with the Lord we stopped off for dinner at a fast food restaurant before arriving back in Toronto at 10.50 pm tired but very happy.

So how has this Pilgrimage helped our timber wolves and explorers…

From an Explorer MinguSo when I go home, I will try to pray, go to Mass and Confession more often.

 

From Joshua a Timber Wolf… I learned about all kinds of sin and trying not to do them, I went to confession and I really liked being blessed by Father Thomas.

From Yoonho a Timber Wolf– I think that I can change from this Pilgrimage by going to Mass more often and to live in my faith.

From Daniel …This Pilgrimage has changed me to be more courage’s and continue to pray more daily because Jesus has borne much more than just praying.

From Andrew an Explorer – I learned more about my faith and God!

 

From Joshua a Timber Wolf – I will change myself by praying more

 

 

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