During the first two weeks of August, thousands of pilgrims traveled to the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation for the annual Novena which culminates with the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.
Families and friends put up their tents side by side in the open grassy area stretching from the Basilica all the way to Shrine Park. The smells of campfires and cooking filled the air along with the sounds of singing, laughter, and prayer.
Then on August 14, a warm Friday evening, the pilgrims held candles and prayed the Rosary as they processed to Shrine Park for the Vigil of the Assumption. Most Reverend Daniel Thomas, Bishop of Toledo, led the procession and the recitation of the Rosary, then presided at the Vigil Mass.
A special part of the pilgrimage experience is the interaction between the Friars and the faithful who sacrifice so much to come and pray during these days. Throughout the Novena, the Friars blessed religious articles, heard confessions, led processions, celebrated Mass, and simply were present to share a story or give out information.
Along with the ten friars who live in Carey, others traveled from across the province – from Indiana, Minnesota, and Texas – to serve the pilgrims. Friars from Zambia and India also helped during the pilgrimage, along with the Friars and novices from the Conventual Franciscan Novitiate.
Though tired at the end, the Friars were filled with admiration for the faith of the pilgrims and gratitude for being able to serve God’s people in this way. They are especially grateful for the presence of so many Chaldean Catholics, many of whom have families in Iraq, or are refugees themselves.
The family of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation continues to grow. May Our Lady continue to intercede for us, asking God to heal our wounds and lead us to His Heavenly home.
Here are a few photos from the Vigil and Feast. Please visit our Facebook page for many more memories.