As we approach the time of the 89th Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Mt. St. Macrina in Uniontown, preparations there intensify.  This biggest and oldest Pilgrimage of its kind of our Church in America continues to be a phenomenon of God’s grace.

Blessings beyond counting abound here. It is a few days for spiritual refreshment – a time away from the cares, concerns, and responsibilities which can crowd our daily lives.  We have an opportunity to pray, either privately or with others at the soul-stirring liturgical services.  The blessing to receive the mysteries of Eucharist and Reconciliation awaits us.

As we appreciate the exceptional beauty of Our Lady in her Shrine indoors, we also enjoy the outdoor natural loveliness: the grounds, the flowers, and the trees of Mt. St, Macrina.  With the gift of His Mother to us, and with the wonder of this part of our world surrounding us, we gratefully acknowledge the blessings from Our Heavenly Father that are ours.

The perspective that Pilgrimage brings can be an awareness of our Church. With the Pilgrims coming from near and far, we can realize that along with our beloved parish churches, we are blessed to belong to the Archeparchy, an Eparchy or an Exarchate (Toronto, Canada), which together comprise the Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh.

The blessing of gathering with our Archbishop, Bishops, Clergy, Religious, Seminarians, Cantors, and each other can never be minimized.  Here together we meet, pray, sing, talk, share, renew acquaintances, and make new friends.

Another grace that endures is the memory of Pilgrimages past.  Perhaps we hold dear and picture a loved one who came with us and who is no longer here.  Maybe we remember fondly the days when we could participate differently – when walking up the hill was not a chore or what it meant to circle the paths in the candlelight processions.

We are thankful for the blessing of our Archbishop, Bishops, and Priests – without whom there would be no Pilgrimage; the blessing of our deacons, seminarians, and cantors; the blessing of the Sisters who joyfully welcome you; the blessing of their staff and volunteers who graciously worked very hard to get ready for your coming, and who give their hours and effort during the Pilgrimage and afterward;  the blessing of those who sacrifice time and travel to be here; the blessing of those who come every year or when they can;  the blessing of first time Pilgrims; the blessing of parents who bring their families; the blessing of those who come alone; the blessing of babies and young children; the blessing of teens and youth, the blessing of the aged and those of all ages: Great Blessings All!

When you come to the Pilgrimage, you will receive many blessings. But please remember, you too are a blessing to be shared.  We await your coming, your presence, and the blessings you bring.