Over 1000 people gathered at the 76th Annual Pilgrimage at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine on August 14 & 15, The Feast of The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary. Little did Fr. Anthony Sylla OMI realize that through his inspiration in 1939, when he decided to build a grotto in a small hill west of St. Anthony's Church that 78 years later, it would still be a spiritual attraction to so many pilgrims! He felt that when World War II broke out in 1939 that there was a need to pray for peace in the world so a grotto was the place where people could gather to pray. Summoining his parishioners that very evening, he asked that they haul their fieldstones so that the construction could begin. Thus, today, a beautiful Shrine, which is a replica of Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in France, exists in the Village of Rama attracting thousands of visitors, not only on August 14 and 15, but throughout the entire year.
However, this year was very special and significant as it marked another historical event at St. Anthony's Church. It began on August 14, THe Vigil of The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary, with the unveiling of two new statues, St. Mother Teresa and St. John Paul II, created by world-renowned artisans in Italy. The unveiling was done by Marie Broda of Kamsack and her son, Gord Broda of Prince Albert. Archbishop Don Bolen of Regina had the honour of blessing the two statues which were placed in the same location as the statue of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, the pro-life saint who made her home at St. Anthony's churchyard in 2012. In addition to this historical moment, St. Anthony's was invited to host the "traveling" International Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima.This was a great honour as this statue stopped at only a few locations in Western Canada marking the 100th Anniversary of Fatima, Portugal. To add to the beauty of the statue, the church was decorated by 100 live white roses and 100 white roses at the grotto. It was May 13, 1917 that Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. The statue travels with two custodians who present the Fatima Message during each stop and is carried in procession with four volunteers. On August 14th, after the blessing of the two statues, it was carried in procession along with many priests, banner carriers, Knights of Columbus, altar servers, St. Anthony's Choir, relic carrier and Archbishop Don Bolen. The carriers of the statue were Gregory Parsons(Wadena), Desiree Nieckar(Yorkton), Juliette Franke(President of St. Anthony's Parish Ladies) & Joe Kowalyshyn (representing St. Anthony's Parish Council ). Prior to Mass, the Filipino Choir(Yorkton) sang hymns of praise to Mary followed by a talk from Cameron Choquette representative of CCO(Catholic Christian Outreach-Saskatoon) followed by the Fatima Message delivered by Carl Malburg(Custodian-Chicago). After the Celebration of The Holy Eucharist,many participated in the Living Rosary in several different languages. The calm and quiet evening led to a magnificent candlelight procession. Adding to the significance of this year's pilgrimage was the Veneration of the relic of St. John Paul II. His relic"ex sanguine"(drop of his blood) was received two weeks prior to pilgrimage from Cardinal Stanislaw Dzwicz from Krakow, Poland who was the Private Secretary of Pope John Paul II over a number of years. All the faithful were invited for public Veneration of the relic. Benediction of The Blessed Sacrament took place in the church with Adoration till midnight. In the stillness of the night the sound of a flute was heard adding to the beauty of the evening as candles burned along many places throughout the grotto!!
August 15, Feast Day of THe Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary
Early morning prayers in Polish("Godzinki") began the celebration, with Mass in Polish- Main celebrant, Fr. Mitch Burdzy OMI (St. Henry's Parish - Melville) and homilist Fr. Marcin Mironiuk OMI(Rama).Divine Liturgy in The Byzantine Rite took place at the Shrine with main celebrant, His Excellency Bishop Bryan Bayda(Saskatoon) and con-celebrants, Fr. Joakim Rac(Canora) and Fr. Mehodius Kushko(Yorkton). Stations of the Cross and Anointing of the Sick followed. Final Mass,once again, with the procession as on August 14 took place. Carriers of the relic were Carol Hauber(CWL-Sturgis), Elaine Olson(St. Anthony's Council), Glen Tymiak(National Past President Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada-Yorkton) and Ken Rolheiser(Knights of Columbus-Canora).Main Celebrant for the Mass was Fr. Mitch Burdzy(Melville) with other con-celebrant priests including Fr. Anandan( India), Fr. Gerard Kooper(Saskatoon) Fr.Methodius Kushko(Yorkton) and Fr. Marcin Mironiuk(Rama). Following the Plenary Indulgence blessing of religious articles and scapulars given by the custodians from Fatima were blessed by Fr. Marcin. Lunch followed in the Parish Hall.
St. Anthony's is very grateful to all who participated including the many priests who gave opportunity for private confessions throughout the two days, Many of the priests came from far distances, Saskatoon, Humboldt, Yorkton, Prince Albert, Verdin, MB, Wadena, Canora and even India. Also many came on the Charter Bus from Saskatoon with pick-ups in Humboldt. It iwas definitely a memorable and historic event that was a huge success!!