Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Deer Park pastor leads pilgrimage to European shrines

the Inland Register

(From the November 15, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Msgr. John Steiner (left) and Father Al Grasher concelebrate Mass at Lourdes. (IR photo courtesy of Fran Hailey)

Last month a group of parishioners from the Spokane Diocese participated in a Marian Pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal and Lourdes, France, led by Father Al Grasher, pastor of St. Mary Presentation Parish in Deer Park.

The pilgrimage group included three other diocesan priests: Fathers Mark Pautler and Joseph Weitensteiner, and Msgr. John Steiner.

At Fatima, the pilgrims visited the homes of Francisco Marto and his sister Jacinta in the town of Aljustrel, Portugal, as well as the childhood home of their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, who lived in the same town. The Blessed Mother appeared to the three when they were children. A visit to the convent where Lucia lived as an adult and the church where all three are buried was also part of the itinerary. A highlight was an evening rosary and procession to honor Our Lady.

Also visited was Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where some of the Pilgrims participated in a 5 km walk along the traditional pilgrimsí path, known as The Way. Everyone worshiped at a noon Pilgrimsí Mass which, which the four Spokane Diocese priests concelebrated with other priests from around the world. A highlight was the 176 pound botafumeiro (thurible, or incense burner) which was lit and then swung to the rafters while the faithful sang hymns.

After visiting the medieval town of Burgos, the tour continued to Azpeitia, Spain, the birthplace of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Mass was celebrated in the very room where the young Ignatius recovered from wounds of war and experienced his conversion.

The town of Lourdes, France, was the final pilgrimage stop. Despite significant flooding of the Gave River, which caused the cancellation of the Spokane pilgrimsí Mass at the Grotto the first day, the group visited the childhood homes and other locations significant in the life of St. Bernadette Soubirous, to whom the apparition of the Blessed Mother appeared. Again, as in Fatima, a highlight was the evening procession with a multilingual rosary, in which the Spokane Diocese pilgrims carried lit candles and their banner. Amazingly, the next day, the Grotto was open, the mud was gone, and the pilgrims were able to approach the spot where the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Bernadette and to touch the holy water which flows from the spring there.

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