75th Anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in Rama

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A lot has changed in the past 75 years, but the number of pilgrims attending has not changed very much since approximately 1500 pilgrims attended the two-day celebration on August 14 & 15, just short of the 2000 that attended the first pilgrimage in 1941. Father Anthony Sylla OMI , builder of the shrine and parish priest at the time would be very pleased today knowing that  pilgrims still continue to annually attend this great Feast Day of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have kept their faith and still honour The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

 

The evening celebration on The Vigil of The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary began with the Yorkton Filipino Choir singing hymns of praise to Mary. Desiree Nieckar of Yorkton and formerly of St. Anthony's Parish in Rama and a member of Catholic Christian Outreach(CCO) reflected on her recent trip to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland from July 25-31. Luke Hergott also a CCO member from Saskatoon added onto the trip to World Youth Day and gave a talk on the Gospel Message.

"Kerygma" is a Greek word meaning Gospel message. He stated there are only 4 simple points:

  1. We are created for a relationship with God.
  2. Our relationship with God is broken through sin.
  3. Jesus came to restore that relationship.
  4. We are invited to have a personal relationship with God again. 

Priests made themselves available for confessions throughout the evening while Burns-Hanley from Regina displayed many religious articles for purchase.

At 8:00 pm, the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus, altar servers, banner carriers, priests and choir assembled at the church and led in procession to the grotto while singing "Holy Ground" to begin the Eucharistic Celebration. Fr. Marcin Mironiuk,pastor of St. Anthony's Parish in Rama, welcomed all and commemorated and thanked those who worked effortlessly in the building of the grotto under the direction of Fr. Anthony Sylla reminding those present that it would be their parents, grandparents or great grandparents. He said that we are standing on Holy Ground since this is a Holy place because it is a sign of the special presence of The Blessed Virgin Mary among us. "She is with us to share our joys and our sorrows. Let us think how many people have discovered God here through her intercession, many have been touched by God's grace, many have even been cured either physically or spiritually." He also expressed his gratitude to  the parishioners of St. Anthony's for the maintenance, upkeep and tremendous amount of work for the preparation for the annual pilgrimage. He then introduced the concelebrating priests: FR. Francis(Watson), FR.Anthony(Lake Lenore), FR.Emmanuel(Wadena), FR. Franklin(Canora), FR. Albert(Ituna), FR. Kushko(Yorkton) and FR. Mitch(Melville) who is the Dean of the Yrorkton-Melville Deanery and Main Celebrant.

In his homily, FR. Marcin described the Life of Mary, explaining the Feast of the Assumption as we celebrate the truth of our faith. "And so today we commemorate not only what God has done for Mary, we also celebrate what God has in store for us who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God created us to spend eternity with  Him in  heaven.He has conquered sin and death and has prepared a place for us in his Kingdom. Mary is the first to receive these blessings . They will one day be ours as well if we hold fast to our faith in Jesus".

Following the Mass, anyone wishing to participate in the Living Rosary assembled in the churchyard and entered the grotto each holding a bead with the Fourth Degree Knights leading.Over 50 volunteers of varying ages took part praying the rosary in many different languages. Then all lit their candles and followed in procession up the hill stopping at three stations. At the first station, prayers were dedicated to all those who fought and died in the World Wars. (The building of the grotto began on the Eve of World War II at which time,  Fr. Anthony  Sylla OMI , pastor of St. Anthony's Parish, summoned his parishioners to haul their fieldstones so that a grotto could be built as it was necessary to pray for peace in the world.) The second station is at the top of the hill with Jesus taken down from the Cross lies in the arms of his mother, Mary(known as the world-famous, "Pieta"). This symbolizes that Jesus died for us, our sins and our salvation. His Mother , Mary, stood by Him throughout his entire earthly journey to the end. The third and final station is at the bottom of the hill with prayers  said for the pioneers who built the grotto.

The Exposition of The Blessed Sacrament takes place in the church with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament till near midnight.

 

August 15- Feast of the Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary

 

The morning begins with "Godzinski" devotional morning prayers to Mary in Polish followed by the Polish Mass. Main celecrant was Fr. Mitch (St. Henry's Parish in Melville). Con-celebrants were Fr. Marcin(Sturgis/Rama), Fr. Augustine(Wynyard), Fr. Stan(Regina), Fr. Andrew(Esterhazy), Fr. Kushko(Yorkton)

Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite took place in the grotto at 10:00 am with Fr. Rac(Canora) and Fr. Kushko(Yorkton). Fr. Rac's homily included how Christianity grew because Christ's followers were not silent. His example was of an ant on a picnic table attracted to sugar. He wanted to share this goodness with other ants so before long many, many ants were attracted to the sugar." how many of us are willing to share a good word about God?" He adds another example of erosion how it takes away the good soil gradually and eventually deadly saying that today we see erosion everywhere with the removal of icons, the removal of "The Lord's Prayer" , and how many keep the commandment of KEEPING HOLY THE LORD'S DAY? There is no guard- the devil moves in without an invitation.He closes asking us to look at ourselves and reflect at our spiritual growth in faith. Are we moving in the right direction? We should let our light shine. Blessed virgin Mary was with Jesus  all her life and this is where we are invited too - to be with Jesus.

Stations of the Cross and anointing of the Sick preceeded the Final Mass

Once again the procession of banner carriers, Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, altar servers, priests and choir entered the Shrine singing "Immaculate Mary" ( this hymn has been sung annually throughout the entire 75 years, at one time in Polish). Main Celebrant, Fr. Mitch Burdzy(Melville) was joined with con-celebrants. Fr. Marcin, Fr. Kushko and Fr. Andrew. During his homily, Fr. Marcin  explains that we call Mary "Blessed" because she gave herself totally to God's plan. We too, should give ourselves to God's plan , avoiding sin and putting the needs of others before ourselves. As we celebrate the 75th Anniversary we commemorate what God has done for Mary, he will do for us as well. The Queen of Heaven also prays for us as she is Our heavenly Mother.

Those wishing to receive a plenary indulgence were given a blessing. As of 2015 with Archbishop Daniel Bohan of Regina visiting the Vatican in Rome has authorized a special partial indulgence for those who attend the Rama Pilgrimage's Liturgies and Prayer service. Blessing of religious articles also took place.

Following Mass all went in procession to the statue of St. Gianna Beretta Molla where flowers were placed and The Pro-Life Prayer was said. All were invited to the parish hall for a lunch followed by a program, Guest speaker, Colette Stang, President of the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association, gave an update of the new laws that will hopefully come into place in Canada and the action  taken by the pro-life activists. Basically, many government officials are not recognizing that it is inhumane to kill a beating heart and that Canada doesn't recognize the sanctity of life!!Therefore, there are NO laws to protect the Unborn who have NO voice. She stated "There is no future without children and that 200-300 babies die daily in Canada due to abortions" She talked about the hopeful law of parental consent illustrating with a power point clip- youth wishing to have a tattoo require parental consent, youth wishing to go rock climbing require parental consent, but youth wishing to have an abortion require NO parental consent and go to the clinic alone. A parental consent law in Saskatchewan would protect teens and the unborn.

Also in a video clip of Jeff Durham who started the "Molly Matters" campaign after having lost his wife, Cassie and her unborn child, Molly. Sadly, Cassie’s daughter is not recognized as a person under Canadian criminal law because she hadn't yet exited her mother's womb. Thus Molly had "zero protection". Cathay Wagontall MP from Yorkton has joined Jeff to work on bringing a law to Canada which would protect pregnant women and their unborn child. Please support Cathay by supporting Bill-C225.

She went on to mention the"Silent No More " campaign and Rachel's Vineyard who are a support group for those experiencing the trauma after having an abortion.

Each year, Colette takes a group of young Saskatchewan people to Ottawa for the national “March for Life ". The group had a chance to meet with MP, Cathy Wagantall, in her Ottawa office. Cathay strongly supports the interests of the Pro-Life activists.  Colette believes that it will be the young people that will change the laws and bring life back to Canada. She is pleased to report that the majority of the “March for Life” participants were youth; approximately 15,000 of the 20,000 participants are young. After their time spent in Ottawa, the young Saskatchewan group has a very strong desire to promote the Pro-Life programs and become even stronger pro-life activists. 

Mary Wagner, has spent four years in jail for trying to talk women as they enter a Toronto abortion clinic and giving them a rose. She is charged with obstructing the business of abortion. Mary is one of the people the Ottawa Youth group got to witness.  Mary believes we need to see Christ in the unborn.

Colette explained the new initiative “LOVE/Help Them Both” Program started by the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association to give financial assistance to pregnant women who find themselves in financial distress. This program has already helped women who choose “LIFE”.  Donations to this initiative are greatly appreciated. She emphasized the importance of sending letters to our MP's and MLA's providing them with feedback on the laws on euthanasia, doctor-assisted suicide, and health decisions for minors. And remember to vote as if Life Depends On It...Because It Does. Lorne Sliva, on behalf of St. Anthony's Parish, expressed thanks to both Colette and her husband Rob, who provided all the power-point clips and closed with two prayers, "The Our Father and The Hail Mary" There is a good possibility that Dr. Gianna Emanuela, the daughter of pro-life heroine, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, will be present for the 5th Annual Mass of the Unborn on August 20, 2017 as she is presently working on her schedule for a visit to Canada.