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Canada's Marian traditions

Alicia Ambrosio

Monday, August 13, 2012

In less than a week we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In North America, because we tend to work straight through the summer, taking time off in bits and pieces, this feast can get lost.
That doesn't mean Canadian Catholics have forgotten about our Blessed Mother. Across our country dioceses and parishes are preparing to mark the Feast of the Assumption. We'll be bringing you a series of posts about the ways Canadian parishes and dioceses celebrate this Marian Feast.
Out west, the Archdiocese of Vancouver is preparing for their annual pilgrimage to the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Fraser Valley Heritage Park in Mission, B.C.
The grotto was the dying wish of Bishop Louis Joseph d'Herbomez, of what was then the Vicariate Apostolic of British Columbia. Bishop d'Herbomez used to mediate on a particular rocky spot on the bank of Fraser River because it reminded him of the grotto of Lourdes. He left instructions in his will for a shrine to be built in that spot. The original shrine was torn down in 1965 and the surrounding land sold to the provincial government.
In 1988 the Knights of Columbus and the Mission Heritage Association raised funds to rebuild the grotto. Since then the archdiocese has organized an annual pilgrimage to the grotto on the third Sunday of August.
Parishes groups board buses and leave the city early in the morning to make the hour and a bit trip to Mission, B.C. Once on site the faithful of the Lower Mainland have a chance to receive the sacrament of reconciliation before Mass is celebrated. After the liturgy, the entire congregation processes up the hill toward the grotto, reciting the rosary and singing traditional Marian hymns in languages that reflect the Lower Mainland's cultural diversity.
In 2011 the main celebrant for the Mass was the Ukranian Catholic Bishop Ken Nowakowski. This year Archbishop Michael Miller will celebrate the Mass at the grotto.
For more information about this year's pilgrimage visit the Archdiocese of Vancouver's events calender, or click here.
Photo courtesy of the B.C. Catholic newspaper

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