Thousands come every year to take part in the annual pilgrimage event that features numerous processions of faith. Photo by MARILYN FORBES I FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
By Marilyn Forbes| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
They come from all corners of the country for one special weekend filled with prayer and devotion as visitors arrive in Uniontown for the Labor Day weekend to gather for the annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help that is held over the Labor Day weekend at Mt. St. Macrina.
The event began in 1935 when the Sisters of St. Basil the Great held a special blessing for the newly acquired Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which was sent by Pope Pius XI.
“This year, we are celebrating the 79th pilgrimage honoring Our Lady of Perpetual Help under the theme ‘Theotokos: Steadfast Foundation of Faith,” Sister Seraphim, OSBM Provincial Sisters of St. Basil the Great, said of the event. “Mary's faith was much closer to our own than the sentimental legends that have been handed down through the ages. As the mother of Jesus, she experienced the same difficulties in life as we do, but with a much greater degree of intensity.”
A tradition for decades and one that many families plan for all year, the weekend event will be filled with several programs and activities that will be geared toward all ages, offering special devotional time and interaction periods for the young and old alike.
“We will have programs for youths, for teens and also for young adults,” Sister Carol said. “We will also have adult enrichment sessions on both Saturday and Sunday.”
The faithful travel great distances to be a part of the weekend, which begins on Saturday morning with the Mystery of Reconciliation or Confession that will take place from 7 a.m. to noon.
“We have people that travel from all over the county to come here,” Sister Carol said. “We have thousands that come.”
Many families opt to be a part of the entire weekend, and those who travel from out of the area are invited to camp on the grounds of Mt. St. Macrina.
“We have people that camp right here on the grounds,” Sister Carol said.
Devotees are welcome to come to all or to part of the weekend, with many attending the processions and the Divine Liturgies that are part of the weekend.
The grounds have been being prepared for weeks prior to the event, and once visitors begin to arrive on Friday, many volunteers will help to take care of traffic flow in addition to helping with the event itself.
“We are so fortunate to have the volunteers that we do, and we would not be able to do it without them,' Sister Carol said.
There is always a great mixture of past participants and new faces at the weekend event, and all are welcome to prayer, to reflect and to be a part of this special annual pilgrimage.
“We look forward to meeting all of the pilgrims again, or perhaps for the first time,” Sister Seraphim said. “For the faithful pilgrims who are unable to be with us physically, please know that we will keep you in the heart of our prayers as we prepare for and live out our sacred pilgrimage journey.”
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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