Sunday, August 10, 2008

Penola Pilgrimage - I

Fr Rowe (whom I spoke to after the 11.15am Low Mass today) has just returned from leading a pilgrimage in honour of Bl Mary MacKillop, Australia's only beata. He has agreed to supply me with details and photos in due course, for to post them online (which I will do in due course).

In any case, the bare bones of the trip was as follows: some 21 pilgrims met Fr Rowe in Adelaide, and made a bus trip out to Penola, S.A., and back, visiting various places associated with Bl Mary MacKillop, who, though born in Melbourne in 1846, and eventually dying in Sydney on the 8th of August, 1909, founded the Josephites (Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart) in Penola, a country town in southeast South Australia about 390km from Adelaide, not far from the Victorian border, back in 1866. Penola nowadays features a museum in her honour, and there are various places there associated with her and with her co-founder, Fr Julian Tenison Woods.

Each day of the pilgrimage there was sung Mass (Fr tells me they used Orbis factor, Cum jubilo, De angelis and Cunctipotens, I think), and knowing Fr Rowe I daresay many Rosaries and yet other devotions were also prayed...

As a special privilege (one shared years before by a priest I know, see below), Fr Rowe was able to say Mass at the church at Penola using the chalice that once belonged to Fr Julian Tenison Woods. Apparently it was quite cold during the pilgrimage - Fr said that when he was singing the Mass, he could see the condensation in his breath!

He told me that his group were the only pilgrims in Penola for the Feast (!), and that the local festivities consisted of a special Mass for the schoolchildren, with but sandwiches afterward (!), while the town itself did absolutely nothing. No wonder religion is at such a low ebb: I hold (as readers of this blog may have guessed) that devotion to the saints - that is, to the perfected members of the Body of Christ, whose sanctity we must imitate by grace lest we be found unworthy of Him - is the measure of Catholicism. How can we expect to save our souls if we never strive to measure up to those who have gone before us and saved theirs by their stedfast adhesion to the Saviour? Too many are but ignorant worldlings, caring nothing for heaven and being but practical atheists, not even bothering to cry Lord, Lord, let alone strive to follow the narrow path that alone leads to Life.

Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the death, or rather birth into eternal life, of Bl Mary, and Fr intends on holding a grander pilgrimage. Oh, and he plans to offer an extension for a few days, to allow the pilgrims to visit the many excellent wineries nearby in the Coonawarra, a famous grapegrowing district with excellent terra rossa soils. I've been there myself, and it is indeed excellent. (I made a pilgrimage to Penola back in 1999, driving from Melbourne with others and a priest, and staying overnight in two Victorian country towns, one on the way to Penola, and one on the way back. Maybe I will travel there again next year...)

Meanwhile, another of our far-travelling parishioners, Rosemary, has been over in Sydney again (for a conference) and was planning on visiting Bl Mary's tomb, at her shrine in North Sydney.

Blessed Mary of the Cross, pray for us.

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