Every year the novices “sanctify” the Christmas season by enjoying an extended pilgrimage in which they visit IVE parishes, pilgrimage sites, and attend various cultural events.
This year pilgrimage began with a visit to one of our parish in Bridgeport, Connecticut. There they visited St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, the burial place of the founder of the Knights of Columbus, Reverend Michael J. McGivney. They also went to “Christmas at the Park” where they watched a live play called “Showlife.” From Bridgeport they went further North to visit St. Kilian’s Parish in New Bedford, Massachusetts, they whaling museum, and the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette.
During the trip, the novices spent six days in New York visiting St. Gabriel’s, St Thomas’ and St Paul’s Churches respectively. While in New York, they visited many pilgrimage sites including St. Vincent Ferrer’s Church, the shrine of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini and St. Patrick’s Cathedral where they were given a tour and prayed at the burial site of the Servant of God Fulton Sheen. Cultural visits included a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
They also visited the sisters at the St. Edith Stein Monastery where the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará have a contemplative branch. There the joyful sisters “spoke through the grill” to the young novices about the vocation to the contemplative life.
On their way home they went to St. Veronica’s Parish in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There they visited several churches including St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral and the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.
The trip concluded with a very momentous visit to the Padre Pio Museum in Barto, PA. There they were introduced to two women who told them about the historical beginnings of the shrine. They explained that their mother had a dream about Padre Pio who told her to go to Italy and said no more. She went with her two children. One of the children was gravely ill and given no chance to survive by the doctors. The mother visited Padre Pio in person and promised to spread his message if the child was healed. Upon their return, the baffled doctors told the mother the child was now healthy. Faithful to her word, the mother opened the museum to encourage devotion to Padre Pio. The women to whom the novices were speaking were the children of the mother, including the child miraculously healed through the intercession of Padre Pio many years ago.
We thank God who providentially arranged so many wonderful opportunities for the novices to have a truly blessed Christmas season.
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