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2004 Pilgrimage for Restoration

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Auriesville, NY--September 15-18, 2004
Auriesville, NY - The ninth annual Pilgrimage for Restoration drew throngs of enthusiastic Catholics from across the US, Canada, and beyond to the Shrine of Our Lady of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, central New York State, from Wednesday, September 15 through Saturday, September 18, 2004.

Saturday's participants, which included senior citizens and many young parents pushing infants in strollers, were joining those pilgrims who began the pilgrimage for the seventh straight year from the shores of the Lake of the Blessed Sacrament (commonly called Lake George, NY) on the previous Wednesday.

With the number of participants again increasing, 250 pilgrims prayed, sang and walked 68 miles to the Fonda Shrine in three days to meet up with hundreds more walking the last leg to Auriesville Saturday. This year again many families with small children, and seniors, joined the ranks of those pilgrims walking more than one day.

Pilgrims were assisted throughout by volunteers of the Company of St. Rene Goupil, a lay apostolate named after the first of the North American Martyrs. Spiritual Father of the Company is Christopher Lexow of Silver Cliff, WI, assisted by Executive Officer Jack Fraker of Jim Thorpe, PA.

Rev. Fr. Andreas Hellmann of the Institute of Christ the King with (American) headquarters in Wausau, WI, served the pilgrims as chaplain. He was assisted by Rev. Frs. Neal Nichols, Thomas Longua & Carl Gismondi of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter from Scranton, PA, as well as retired Fr. Arthur DeMaio. The priests heard confessions, preached sermons, gave instruction and offered Holy Mass each day.

On each of the three days en route to Fonda, and in Auriesville on Saturday, Holy Mass was offered according to the traditional Roman missal of 1962 revived by Pope John Paul II fifteen years ago with the motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei. In all, 17 traditional Latin Masses were offered during the pilgrimage.

On the final day of the four-day pilgrimage - commemorating the 362nd anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Isaac Jogues and his companions - about 500 pilgrims walked the last seven miles along the banks of the Mohawk River to Auriesville, starting at the Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Fonda, NY.

Celebrant and homilist of the Latin Mass on Saturday was Fr. Edmund Castronovo, pastor at St. Joseph's Parish in Oneida, NY. Fr. Castronovo was joined Saturday by numerous priests who heard confessions en route and at the shrines.

The St. Michael's parish choir directed by Mrs. Eileen Hanisch of Scranton, PA provided music for the high Mass, Saturday. The choir's praise included a Mass by Palestrina.

The general intention of the annual event is the restoration of grace. Two specific intentions are the restoration of the Catholic family and of the ancient Roman liturgical and spiritual patrimony. The theme of this year's pilgrimage was Restoration of True Devotion to Mary: Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.

Sponsors of the event, the National Coalition of Clergy & Laity, say the annual pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise of penance and reparation for sins committed against the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the salvation of souls, and with the intention of cooperating in the work of the Martyrs to convert our lands to Christ Our King - ad majorem Dei gloriam.

Inspiration and model for the pilgrimage comes from the ancient Chartres pilgrimage, newly rehabilitated, which draws thousands of Catholics to France each Pentecost. Organizers of the French pilgrimage, the apostolate Association Notre-Dame de Chrtient, exchange greetings and prayers with their American counterparts each year.

Saturday's ceremonies began in the early morning with prayers at the Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Fonda where the "Lily of the Mohawks" was baptized and lived. On Saturday, as on all four days, pilgrims sang hymns and recited the Holy Rosary and other prayers, while priests heard confessions. The column arrived early in the afternoon Saturday at the Coliseum Church of Our Lady of Martyrs where the final Latin Mass was offered. The church stands at the site where Saints Isaac Jogues, Rene Goupil and John de LaLande were martyred in 1642 and 1646, at the Iroquois village of Ossernenon.

Following Holy Mass many pilgrims venerated the holy grounds of Ossernenon, including the ravine where St. Rene, the first of the martyrs and a layman, was buried by St. Isaac.

Organizers consider the pilgrimage an opportunity for North American Catholics to celebrate the Church's history of evangelization on this continent and to resolve to continue the work of the missionaries in a spirit of restoration, the same spirit which animates the pilgrimage to Chartres.

They anticipate more Catholics to join the pilgrimage next year to pray for the reform so urgently needed in our lands. The tenth annual Pilgrimage for Restoration is scheduled to take place September 28 through October 1, 2005.

A recording on cassette of the many traditional hymns sung during the pilgrimage is available for a suggested donation of $20 to the National Coalition. The companion pilgrims' prayer book - 65 pages of lyrics and prayers, including the texts of the 1962 Roman missal in Latin and English - is also available, and comes with the recording, on request.  A documentary film of the Pilgrimage is also available on DVD or VHS, for a suggested donation of $12.

For more information contact the Company of St. Ren Goupil or the National Coalition of Clergy & Laity at 528 North New Street Ste #2, Bethlehem PA 18018-5715; tel 610/882-3124; fax 610/882-3125;
coalition@fast.net and www.national-coalition.org.