BLUMENFELD, Sask. — Bishop Gerald Wiesner’s prayers for good weather were answered, with a picture-perfect pilgrimage day June 12 at the historic shrine at Blumenfeld.
“I had a chat with our Blessed Mother,” he said with a smile.
Along with Rev. Lawrence DeMong, OSB, and Rev. Hoang Nguyen, Wiesner was the chief presider at the annual Blumenfeld pilgrimage, organized by parishes in the area. Wiesner, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Prince George and a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, now resides in Saskatoon and serves as chair of the diocesan Holy Year of Mercy Committee.
Beginning with the Stations of the Cross and the rosary, this year’s pilgrimage also included the dedication of a Holy Door of Mercy at the entrance of the historic Sts. Peter and Paul Church.
Wiesner blessed the Holy Door, praying, “We seek your blessing upon these doors: we ask you to impart your blessing upon all the faithful who will pass through these doors, receiving your divine mercy. We ask that these doors stand as a beacon of welcome to all who are hurt, who thirst, who are oppressed, who are inconsolable, and who have forgotten that your heart is a heart of immense and unconditional love.”
The church bells peeled as the faithful passed through the Holy Door.
Mass followed at the outdoor grotto of Our Lady of Sorrows, in a celebration that also took mercy as its theme, as well as marking the 200th anniversary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who historically served the Catholic community in the area.
In his homily, Wiesner reflected on the boundless mercy of God revealed in the Sunday readings, including the Gospel about Jesus’ response to the woman who washed his feet in the house of the Pharisee. “What strikes us most are these extravagant acts of God’s mercy,” he said.
“Pope Francis reminds us that in our celebration this year we are to reflect more deeply on God’s mercy. We are to reflect more deeply on how we have received God’s mercy in many and different ways, and then, very importantly, to reflect on how we are called to be merciful to our sisters and brothers. We are supposed to be ambassadors of mercy, we are supposed to be agents of mercy for our sisters and brothers.”
Wiesner also reflected on the Blessed Virgin Mary as “the mother of mercy,” noting that the annual Blumenfeld pilgrimage is held in honour of the Blessed Mother. He described how Mary trusted in God, gave her “yes” to becoming the mother of Jesus, in order that the Son of God could come into the world as “our Saviour, our Redeemer, the face of the Father’s mercy.”
Mary walked a pilgrim’s path of faith, bearing sorrows and hardships, he added. Standing at the foot of the cross, it might appear that Mary was doing nothing. But she was not passive at all. “Mary was holding and carrying the tension,” said Wiesner. “She was not giving it back. She was absorbing the hurt. Mary’s silence and strength were speaking powerful words to us,” he said, describing her as a “manifestation of mercy” in the face of darkness at the foot of the cross.
“Mary embodies the Gospel of divine mercy,” Wiesner added. “She radiates God’s sympathy, God’s mercy. By her maternal charity she cares for us, she guides us, she leads us.”
The Blumenfeld church is one of several in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon that have designated Holy Doors. During this Jubilee Year of Mercy the faithful are invited to make a pilgrimage to a Holy Door. The blessing of a plenary indulgence is granted when a visit happens in conjunction with the sacrament of reconciliation, celebration of the eucharist, a reflection on God’s mercy, and praying the intentions of the Holy Father.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon will be held Aug. 5, with participants gathering in the parking lot at 6:30 p.m. to process into the building and through the Holy Door for celebration of the eucharist with Bishop Donald Bolen. There will be opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation and eucharistic adoration during the Aug. 5 event.