United States Province Pilgrimage to L'Hermitage
Thirteen pilgrims from New York and Chicago in the Province of the United States began their sojourn to Notre Dame de L'Hermitage on July 7. The group from Chicago consisted of Brother Hank Hammer, Larry Tucker, Patti Arvesen, Erin Kelly, Sarah Rakouskas, and Deacon Andy Neu. Brother Al Rivera, Brother John Kachinsky, Dorothy DeNoto, John Kramer, Richard Karsten, and Maureen & Pat Hagan flew from New York.
A bit of a delay getting out of JFK airport allowed time for the New York group to go sightseeing in Amsterdam, as they had a whole day to explore, rather than just the expected one hour. No worries, though - the group was united with their Chicago companions by dinner time on Saturday at Notre Dame de L'Hermitage. There, they were welcomed by Br. Diogene, who would be their guide for the trip, and by the rest of the Hermitage community.
The pilgrimage days began with breakfast and prayer. On Sunday, before Mass, we had a tour of the museum aspects of L'Hermitage - the chapel and reliquary, Marcellin's bedroom, the Chapter Room, and the museum. After Mass, the group travelled to La Maisonette and LaValla. All were moved by the opportunity to see evidence of the early days of the institute. Adding to this experience was the hike back down from LaValla, literally walking in Marcellin's footsteps.
On Monday, we were off to an even earlier time period - LaRosey - where Marcellin was born, and Marhles, where he received his sacraments. We then fast forwarded in the story to the vestiges of the Montagne house and the place of the Donnet family, where the Memorare in the Snow took place. The day also included lunch and celebration of the Eucharist where we were joined by another group of pilgrims from the Province of East Asia. Meeting up with this group gave us, once again, a glimpse of the great Marist world and the connections we all had.
On Tuesday, the day was spent in LePuy, where there are some significant ties to the Marist beginnings. Marcellin's Aunt Louise was a member of the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, which was founded in LePuy. It was also in the cathedral here that the idea of the Society of Mary first came to Jean-Claude Courveille.
Each day included time for personal and group reflections. We enjoyed spending time sharing the experiences of the different sites that were visited. The pilgrims were excited and moved to physically be in these places that are references so often in Marist History.
The trip finished with a tourist day in Paris. Most of the group chose to take a boat ride on the Seine River, which offered the opportunity to see many historical sites in the city.