The Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Ann is completed for another year.
We are left with the memory of a wonderful gathering, and the "minor miracle" of the rains,
that held off during the celebrations of Holy Mass.
For many, the summer months were a time of relaxation and time with family and friends.
While these elements were not neglected, the richness of life in the pastoral
cluster of St. James the Less, the Shrine of St. Ann, and Nativity of Mary
Mission also included the celebration of the Pilgrimage to the
Shrine of St. Ann.
The magnitude of this event dominates the other celebrations and commitments
that take place throughout the time surrounding the actual Pilgrimage,
especially for the parishioners at the Shrine, and our many friends who
assist with the various duties that are part of the Pilgrimage event.
We feel both great pride and humble gratitude for the ongoing success of
the Pilgrimage, and the many thousands who come to the Cormac area to
experience the presence of Almighty God, and request the intercession of
St. Ann in their needs of life.
We are deeply grateful to all who worked so faithfully and diligently
to make this year's Pilgrimage a wonderful success. Though lacking the
natural prominence of last year's 75th celebration, the numbers attending -
in spite of the threatening weather - were truly inspiring.
Thanks as well to the Knights of Columbus for your presence and assistance,
both with the set-up and take-down events, as well as your presence
on Pilgrimage Sunday and your involvement in the ministries of the day.
Of special note was the presentation to Bishop Mulhall that was made on
behalf of the faithful of the Diocese of Pembroke.
This presentation was made at the conclusion of the principal
Pilgrimage Mass. We can be sure that the memory of over 2,000
people offering their applause of gratitude to the Bishop will
always be with him... as will the sight of so many running for
cover from the rain as he began to speak!
The local media provided wonderful coverage of the event.
We are especially grateful to Gerald Tracey, publisher of the Eganville Leader,
for allowing us to quote from his paper's coverage of the event.
The excerpts that follow are taken from the July 30th edition of the Leader.
"All over the Ottawa Valley, the skies were heavy and dark with rain clouds
looming Sunday and precipitation from light mists to scattered showers to heavy
downpours occurred throughout the day."
"However, as people approached Cormac, they could see a bright spot and
an opening in the sky and although clouds moved in and out overhead during
the 11 o'clock outdoor shrine mass, the sun shone for most of the mass.
Following the service, Father Lacey noted it was amazing the rain held
off when the forecast had called for a 70 per cent chance of rain.
He noted it was somewhat hard to say it was a miracle, but it did have
a lot of people questioning the miraculous power of the saint.
After all, it is a known fact that many people planning an outdoor
summer celebration in this area, hold it on pilgrimage Sunday because
they know they are assured of good weather."
"Thousands of the faithful came to the Shrine of St. Ann on Sunday
to celebrate, seek healing and pray at the 76th annual pilgrimage.
Father Lacey again expressed his gratitude to the members of the small
parish and to the many people who return home and come from neighbouring
parishes to help with all that has to be done before, during, and
after the spiritual celebration.
"From the bottom of my heart and from the bottom of the heart of the people
that call the parish of St. Ann their home parish, I extend a sincere thank
you for your presence and your prayers here this day," he told the 2,000 or so
people assembled for the morning mass. Fr. Lacey said the pilgrimage would not
take place if were not for the members of the faith community of St. Ann's,
former parishioners and parishioners from surrounding parishes helping out."
"That same kind of gratitude was also expressed by Diocese of Pembroke
Bishop Michael Mulhall in his opening remarks leading into his homily.
"So many of us are bringing intentions to this mass and have over 76 years," he said.
"It really marks a point in our diocesan year to gather together for this
wonderful feast and also this wonderful pilgrimage".
"Bishop Mulhall referred to the great suffering taking place,
not just in everyone's home community, but the suffering and strife taking place in Syria,
the Holy Land and the Ukraine, and many other places around the globe.
"But we also think of the suffering and strife in our families and in our communities," he noted.
"So much despair that exists there and we bring those intentions to the Lord today."
"In many ways," he continued, "when we are bringing our intentions to the Lord we are asking Him
to please grant a favour to us, whatever it is. And so important it is for us to focus in our
minds what it is we are asking." He said.
"Bishop Mulhall spoke of Solomon and the first reading in the mass when he was taking over
from his father, David, and God asking him what he wished for in life.
"He asked for a righteous heart, a discerning mind, for the knowledge of the difference between
good and evil," he said. "And his answer pleases the Lord enormously. He doesn't ask for money,
he doesn't ask for the death of his enemies, he doesn't even ask for a long life, but he asks for a
discerning and a knowledgeable heart, a wise heart which the Lord granted to him."
"Bishop Mulhall said if that question were asked now, there would be things that come to
people's hearts immediately that will be part of our human existence.
He said security and well-being are important, but a wise and discerning heart and the ability
to give one's heart completely to the Lord will come as the Lord continues to ask."
"See how gentle and patient He is with us as He continues to put that question before us and
if we had that dream last night, be reassured we will have it again tonight and the next night and the next night.
What's taking place is that He keeps asking," he continued. "He can give us anything He wishes,
but He wants us to express to Him what we wish and in the expressing of what we wish, He's transforming our very hearts.
He is teaching us what our hearts wish. And even if we did it wrong, gradually we are getting
it better and better until we realize that we are asking the Lord that He grant to us a heart like His own."
"As the Lord continues to ask the question and His people keep refining it in their hearts,
we will go through life and realize our treasure is somewhere else, that the treasure is not within
myself, the treasure is going out of myself and giving myself to God's holy people into the Lord Himself."
Thank you, Gerald Tracey, for allowing us to quote these words from your newspaper article.
Next year we have tentatively booked Father Scott McCaig, the Moderator of the Companions
of the Cross from Ottawa, to lead our 2015 Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Ann in Cormac.
In the time between now and the 2015 Pilgrimage, may we resolve to be united in prayer:
we here at the Shrine of St. Ann in prayer for you and the needs in your heart and life,
and you for us. Together may our hearts be refined that we may find our happiness in
the Lord, and that our hearts may be made ever more like the heart of Christ.
With our deepest love and gratitude,
The Shrine of St. Ann