Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Diocesan prayer pilgrimage: a day-long journey of faith

Story and photo by Brian Kraut, for the Inland Register

(From the September 17, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

At one stop, the prayer pilgrims joined Father José Luiz Hernandez and the San Juan Diego Mission community, processing through Basin City with a statue of Mary, celebrating the Feast of the Assumption. (IR photo)

The Aug. 15 Diocesan Prayer Pilgrimage was a journey of faith.

Jesus said “Ask and you shall receive”; the pilgrimage was an active response to this invitation.

On the Feast of the Assumption, pilgrims journeyed through the diocese, stopping at parishes dedicated to Our Lady, in prayer for the entire diocese. In addition, prayers were offered for each parish and priest, along with all the Know, Love and Serve pastoral plans.

There were 24 pilgrims in all: 12 laity, two priests, and 10 women Religious.

The pilgrimage began with an evening of reflection and prayer at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center on Friday, Aug. 14. The sunrise saw pilgrims making their way to the buses. Father Kenny St. Hilaire, pastor of the parishes in Odessa, Ritzville, and Wilbur, offered a morning blessing to begin the day of intercessory prayer.

After patiently navigating road construction on Highway 195, the pilgrims arrived at Holy Rosary Parish, Rosalia. The bright faces of children greeted all at the door. Father Lucas Tomson, pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Student Center in Pullman, vested in the sacristy. The voices of parishioners and pilgrims joined together as Mass was celebrated, honoring the Assumption.

With heart and soul nourished with Christ, the morning was not complete without a farm-fresh breakfast. The visible body of Christ, the Church, smiled and laughed as a sense of heavenly kinship took hold.

Back to the bus, the wheels rolled over the ever-warming road through the sun-scorched hills. The dry earth gave way to the blue water of the Snake River, which was rimmed with piles of grain destined to feed the world. How could we not ask that the floodgates of heaven be opened so the life-giving waters of Christ would pour out over our church, and bring forth a similar harvest that will feed the world with bread that would fill them so they would hunger no more?

Through the towns of Dayton, Waitsburg, and Dixie, and then on to Walla Walla, to Assumption Parish for lunch. Father Matthew Nicks, the pastor, with parochial vicars Fathers David Gaines and Kyle Rautuiste, welcomed all. Jerry Owens, parishioner of Assumption, shared his vocation of detention ministry at Walla Walla State Penitentiary. After walking through the church and parish grounds in prayer, the buses were off to the prison.

With hearts of mercy for all who have hurt another and for all who have been hurt, pilgrims took to their knees in the prison parking lot and sang out the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. May our hearts always be filled with mercy.

Onward past the vineyards towards the Columbia River. On the outskirts of Pasco the Country Mercantile called with tree-ripened peaches, fresh sweet corn, or samples in the chocolate factory. Pilgrims enjoyed a savory respite which was only a precursor to what awaited in Basin City, where the pilgrims … got lost.

Fortunately, Basic City’s pastor, Father José Luis Hernandez, and Providence Sister Myrta Iturriaga were seen striding down the street under the shade of an umbrella, from the church to the starting point of the afternoon parade honoring Mary. A statue of Mary arrived, adorned in brilliant color and ready to be carried by willing participants. El Santo Rosario began... En el Nombre del Padre … and the statue of Mary was lifted high. Young and old proudly carried Mary. Eyes were wide open, and hearts were brimming with joy as sweat poured down the backs of pilgrims as they processed to the church as the family of God.

Upon arrival at the church a bouquet was left before Our Lady, as the pilgrims had done at each of their prior stops.

Gas tanks running on empty, and pilgrims beaming with a healthy Catholic pride, gazed upon Mesa, Lind and Ritzville as the journey heads to Sprague’s Mary Queen of Heaven Parish. Pilgrims climbed the front steps and an audible sense of awe and wonder escaped their mouths. Like finding a treasure buried in the field, pilgrims found a sanctuary that clearly pointed toward heaven in the midst of the sagebrush. Here the pilgrims concluded the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration. Here God helped all to slow down and know God is God the great I Am.

With the daylight waning and more than 12 hours passed since the morning began, the spires of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes were in sight. Father Daniel Barnett, rector of Bishop White Seminary, and Father Jason Hiner, parochial vicar at the Cathedral, awaited the arrival. Father Barnett guided the prayer as intercessions were offered for an increase in vocations, and an awareness that everyone has a call from God.

The fullness of the day was felt by all, but the common discussion was: How can we make this happen next year?

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