Twelve men journey to the shrine of the Canadian Martyrs, joined by over 100 pilgrims for the last 13k.
A pilgrimage is a journey taken for the sake of honouring a holy place and the saints who at one time dwelt there. It is also an offering of sacrifice and suffering to Almighty God in order to obtain a particular grace. On Friday September 23rd of this year, twelve men began a two-day pilgrimage from the Catholic Church of the Canadian Martyrs in Orillia, to the Martyrs' Shrine in Midand, Ontario; the National Shrine and historic site dedicated to the eight Jesuit Saints who served and died there nearly four centuries ago.
Sacrificing work and leisure, and for many, bearing the inconvenience and time of traveling a considerable distance, the twelve pilgrims arrived at the SSPX Church in Orillia and began with an early Mass offered by Fr. Daniel Couture, District Superior of the Society of St. Pius X in Canada. Then after a light breakfast and short gathering, departed for the first day length of 33kms towards Midland. The Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay areas have been joined by an impressive system of trails that allow hikers, cyclists, horseback riders and snowmobilers a chance to enjoy the beautiful surroundings native to the areas. The men journeyed by means of these trails to Coldwater; the midpoint of the pilgrimage. The trails provided a rich atmosphere of early autumn colour in quiet forest and farm areas, apart from major roads and urban areas which were wonderfully conducive to the unceasing prayers of the pilgrims. Fr. Couture lead the men in six Rosaries, most of which being sung, in addition to the Litanies of the Blessed Virgin and the Sacred Heart of Jesus and instructed them to observe periods of silence as well in order to clear in mind and heart, the true end of the pilgrimage, and to obtain maximal grace.
After more than six hours of prayer and strong-paced hiking, the pilgrims arrived at one of the men's houses where they enjoyed a bountiful supper and fellowship. They retired to camp at a prudent time in order to depart early the next morning and to finish the last length of their journey. Walking from Coldwater on Saturday morning, the men travelled nearby to St. Ignace II, the site originally being Huronian Territory where Sts. Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were brutally martyred. After Mass offered by Fr. Dominique Boulet, the 12 valorous men were joined with faithful from the Society of St. Pius X's Ontario chapels in their 13 kms pilgrimage to Martyrs' Shrine in Midland. After lunch, more than a hundred other pilgrims, including the young and old, priests and lay people, families and individuals, walked the final 13kms to Midland. Once arriving there they attended a solemn high Mass, celebrated by Fr. Couture, assisted by Fr. Sherry & Fr. Potvin. After Mass, the pilgrims toured the holy grounds and were able to venerate the relics of the holy martyrs. Afterwards, all the faithful were invited to attend a barbeque in Midland where they could enjoy a much needed meal as well as fellowship. Thanks be to God for the wonderful weather this year, for the many who attended and especially for the graces received. Until next year...