The Year of Mercy is an opportunity to resurrect an ancient practice in a new land: pilgrimage!
Last Saturday (27 February), ten pilgrims arrived at St Brigid’s Catholic Church in Nicholson Street, North Fitzroy, having walked 23km from St Philip’s Catholic Church in Junction Road, Blackburn North.
St Brigid’s has been designated a “Shrine of Mercy” for the Holy Year, and its main door is one of the five Holy Doors in Melbourne. “It’s always open”, said Fr Savino Bernardi CS, when we contacted him to organise the pilgrimage.
The day began for five pilgrims after receiving communion at the 9am Extraordinary Form mass at St Philips. Fr Nicholas Dillon gave us the traditional pilgrims’ blessing, and we headed off down the street. Soon we were on the Koonung Creek trail, which follows the Eastern Freeway all the way to Burke Road – although we hardly knew we were so close to civilisation, as most of the trail is pleasant bush and parkland.
A leisurely pace meant that we had time to stop for lunch at the Freeway Golf Course café, and rest often in the shade of trees along the way. Two more pilgrims joined us at the start of the Main Yarra Trail at Burke Road, and three more at Yarra Boulevard before crossing the Yarra in to Clifton Hill at the “pipe bridge”. Before arriving at St Brigid’s we detoured via a café in Queen’s Parade for a cold beverage. We also stopped to pray at St John the Baptist Church – and were graced to hear the baroque quartet practicing for next Sunday night’s concert.
The pilgrimage included prayers along the way, including Rosary and Divine Mercy, the Year of Mercy Prayer of Pope Francis and psalms. But mostly it was a chance to talk and share with one over many issues and concerns along the way.
On arrival at St Brigid’s, Fr Savino came out to welcome us and give us his blessing. He took photos for us also, before we entered through the Holy Door into the Church. There we knelt before the beautiful statue of Our Lady and professed our faith and prayed for the Holy Father’s intentions, in accordance with the norms for the Holy Door Plenary Indulgence.
The day was one full of graces and unexpected discoveries. We hope to repeat the opportunity again during the Holy Year with a walking pilgrimage to the Holy Door at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Keysborough. Contact David Schütz on 0400 978 938 to register your interest.