…Together we make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ…Ephesians 4:12

The Sisters of St. Basil the Great have been abundantly blessed with dedicated and hardworking volunteers as they prepare for the 79th Annual Pilgrimage in Honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

The 240-acre property needs lots of tender loving care for the many pilgrims who will visit Mount Saint Macrina over the Labor Day weekend.

“Preparations begin in the spring and continue throughout the summer.  There is so much to do.  Our volunteers help us with such tasks as planting flowers, cleaning, painting and so much more,” said Sister Carol Petrasovich, OSBM.  Sister Carol is the Pilgrimage coordinator.

The first official clean-up day was Helping Hands Day and it was held on Sat., June 1 and sponsored by the Greek Catholic Union.

An annual event, Helping Hands Day, brings together GCU members and volunteers to weed and plant the floral gardens, urns, and other areas surrounding the shrines throughout the grounds.  Other work included cleaning several pavilions of a winter’s worth of leaves and debris.

As the time of the Pilgrimage grows close, there are many volunteers throughout the community and friends of the Sisters who come to the Mount and help with preparations.  The next organized event took place on Sat., Aug. 17.  This time GCU members were joined by the Duquesne University Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams. The effort was coordinated by their coach Tom Slosky.

“We were delighted to have this outstanding group of young people come and help our efforts.  This project was presented to them as a volunteer opportunity.  It was not a mandatory project.  The turnout was so impressive and we are so grateful,” added Sister Carol.

For the past few years, the Johnson family and other volunteers from nearby Morgantown, W.Va. have come to Mount Saint Macrina to lend a hand.  The group attends Holy Protection Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in Morgantown. They assist Sister Regina with cleaning and preparing the kitchen and dining area at the

In October 2012, the Sisters lost two dedicated and long term Pilgrimage volunteers.  John Harvey passed away on October 16 and John Dudas passed on October 30.  In their honor, two men from New York and three men from New Jersey came the week prior to the Pilgrimage to assist the Sisters with last minute chores, such as delivering candles, paper supplies, communion stands and benches.  They also work on minor repairs.

“These men worked with John Harvey and/or John Dudas during past Pilgrimages or on parish projects.  So, they have come to help us in honor of their deceased friends,” said Sister Barbara Jean Milhalchick, OSBM.

The Associates have also been very helpful the preparation of the elements associated with the liturgical services.  Some are helping Sister Ruth Plante at the Religious Gift Shop, others are working in the numerous gardens throughout the property and several worked on various clean-up projects.

“We open our hearts and welcome our volunteers who help us with this yearly project.  For the faithful who are no longer able to help, we thank you for all your years of service.  For those planning to give of their time and talents again next year, we will extend a warm welcome back.   For those who have not been here before and are considering helping out next year, we ask for any amount of time that you can offer,” added Sister Carol.

“Everyone is so important and so appreciated.  It would be nearly impossible to name each volunteer who contributes, but you know who you are and you know how thankful
we are that you are here with us,” added Sister Barbara Jean.