The pilgrimage begins at St. Joseph’s Oratory. Photo from Wikipedia

Holy Family inspires first vocations pilgrimage

By 
  • August 7, 2019

The Archdiocese of Montreal will be invoking the Holy Family as it hosts the first of what is hoped to be an annual pilgrimage to pray for vocations.

The 5.5-kilometre pilgrimage will take place from early afternoon to early evening Aug. 17, the Feast of the Assumption, and take in some of the archdiocese’s most well-known places of worship.

The pilgrimage is in honour of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as “within the Holy Family we find aspects of all vocations,” said Fr. Silvain Cloutier, the archdiocese’s director of pastoral service for vocations to the priesthood. Consecrated life is linked to the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Feb. 2), priesthood to the Last Supper and deacons to Jesus’ will. Mary is mother of all vocations and St. Joseph is patron saint of the Church in Canada.

“We wish to devote the pastoral service for all vocations to the Holy Family knowing, as St. John Paul II told us, that the family is the cradle of all vocations,” said Cloutier. “God gave us all a common vocation which is a call to holiness.”

The pilgrimage will begin in the Crypt Church at St. Joseph’s Oratory where pilgrims will hear of St. Joseph’s place in the Holy Family. It will then move on to Notre-Dame-des Neiges Cemetery for a moment of prayer before making its way to the Grand Séminaire de Montreal. Here the focus will be on Jesus through eucharistic adoration and testimonies from a seminarian, a married couple and a nun. Archbishop Christian Lépine will then celebrate Mass at Mary Queen of the Word Basilica and highlight the importance of Mary.

The call to vocations goes beyond trying to recruit for the priesthood and religious life, said Cloutier. People will hear about “the joys and challenges” in answering God’s call. 

“During this pilgrimage we will hear the testimonies of people of various vocations,” he said in an e-mail to The Catholic Register. “They will tell us how important Joseph, Jesus and Mary were during their discernment process leading to a consecrated life (for both genders), to the diaconate or to priesthood (or to seminary school), to a faithful life as young lay people or into marriage, their central vocation.”

The idea of a pilgrimage has been in development over the past five years, said Cloutier. Searching for holiness in all is the goal of the archdiocese.

“This takes place in the Church, in parishes, as well as in parish communities and Christian youth groups,” he said. “We try to grow a vocational culture in all of these circles for the people being called, as well as for those who call.”

Pilgrimage has long been a part of the Catholic Church, “a Church going forward,” said Cloutier. It allows people “to meet one another, to be out in the wild, to increase human and spiritual health.” 

Though most of this first edition will be in French there are plans to have different pilgrimages in the future, one mainly in French, the other mainly English.

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