Shrine-to-Shrine Pilgrimage for World Peace
Ninety people Walking in the Rain Around Table Mountain Range to the Shrine in Villa Maria, Cape Town
(mkf) Over ninety people, most of them youth and young adults, set out for a seven hour walk around Table Mountain Range to the Shrine in Villa Maria, starting their pilgrimage for World Peace with the Pilgrims' blessing in the Shrine in Constantia. The day – September 24, feast of our Lady of Ransom - started with rain. The pilgrims got lost along the way – and took the rainbow at the beginning of their march as a sign of God's Covenant faithfulness, offering their tiredness as something worthwhile for World Peace.
The Shrine-to-Shrine pilgrimage started in 1977 as jubilee gift for the 25th anniversary of the Villa Maria Shrine and as a pilgrimage for peace and justice when the outwardly active struggle against apartheid started. It was meant to be a once only affair for the jubilee but it caught on among the people and has become an annual event since then. It has only been cancelled once due to very bad weather and even then some die-hards went on with it. It started as a mainly Schoenstatt event but has developed into an annual event which Schoenstatt offers the local church.
Determined to do it for world peace
On September 24, the day started of with rain. "However we were determined to it for world peace," said one of the approximately 90 participants. They went on pilgrimage to come closer to God, to strengthen and deepen their faith, to ask God for world peace and to ask for forgiveness. The shrine-to-shrine pilgrimage or any pilgrimage is not the same as a hike or a holiday. It demands something of us. Traditionally, people walked, fasted, did specific acts of penance and self-denial, and gave alms to the poor along the way. The same applies today. "In this time of crisis, we have come on pilgrimage to pray for peace not only for America but for the whole world", the pilgrimage prayer said. Peace starts with each one of us. It starts from the inside out. It starts with little things like forgiving those who hurt us and asking for forgiveness when we need it, listening to the thoughts others wish to share with us and the feelings they’re trying to express, sharing what we have with those who are less fortunate than ourselves, make a pilgrimage to the shrine or your parish church to ask Our Lady, Queen of peace, to intercede peace for us, being courteous and patient even when that’s difficult.
Some young people had left home at 6:00 AM to make it to the Shrine in Constantia at 8:00 AM for the beginning of the peace walk.
"That seemed to fit with God's change of plan for America"
The pilgrimage started at the Constantia Shrine with a Pilgrims' Blessing in the Shrine. Then, the people were ferried by car to the starting point and then walked from there to Villa Maria. The path they always take winds around Table Mountain Range and ends in in Cape Town itself at the Villa Maria Shrine. It takes a minimum of 7 hours almost non-stop except to stop to celebrate Holy Mass and have something to eat - and then we continue.
The difference this year was that they had to change part of the normal route because of erosion problems on the previous path. 2It seemed to fit with God's change of plan for America," said one of the young participants. The pilgrimage started with a beautiful rainbow - the sign of the covenant. "And our Lady did care," shared one of the persons on charge", because the inevitable happened - even after the most careful planning - some took the wrong path. But we eventually found each other again in spite of rain, mist, and the human factor. The organizers might have had gray hairs at times but the pilgrims enjoyed themselves and felt they had done something worthwhile for world peace." A young seminarian said: "All the incidents that took place including getting lost are like a mirror of salvation history - there are both ups and downs'.
Holy Mass in the Pine Forest
A young couple, Peter and Nicky Bailey, celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary by walking around the mountain for peace. Fr. Mark blessed them at Holy Mass that was celebrated in the pine forest under the protection of umbrellas - because it was raining. Fr. Mark Foster, who celebrated the Holy Mass in the forest, and even got lost twice in the bargain, said: "I won't miss this pilgrimage for anything. I'll be back next year". Another pilgrim said, "I laughed a lot, prayed and learned a lot about myself and others. I'll be back next year.
The pilgrimage ended the pilgrim at Villa Maria – the pilgrims were first met with tea and biscuits and then they closed with Benediction. "This was a fitting close to our pilgrimage for world peace," someone commented. In spite of rain, getting lost, and the normal things that happen with a long walk most pilgrims promised to be back next year - when the silver jubilee of the walk and the golden jubilee of the Villa Maria Shrine are celebrated.
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