Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 14, 1999
Pilgrimage close to home
Canadian Catholics can find pilgrimage dstinations in their own backyards
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Catholic pilgrims can find an abundance of grottos and shrines right in their own Prairie backyards.
From Eleske in the north end of Alberta, to Cardston, only arm's reach from the U.S. border, Albertans needn't dig too deep into their pockets to plan a pilgrimage.
"There's more people going on pilgrimages now," said Maurice Fritze, owner of Ready Set Go Travel. "Leading up to the millennium year, it heightens things for people."
Fritze said people are pouring money for international sites such as Israel, the Vatican and most recently Guadalupe, but many are also taking advantage of the local shrines in their own country.
"St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec is probably one of the most popular in Canada," he said. "There are a few popular ones here in Alberta too."
Like international pilgrimages, the local ones are planned individually or by Church groups. But unlike their Holy Land counterparts, pilgrimages such as the annual one in Lac Ste. Anne, are inexpensive, costing no more than the price of gas and food, said Fritze.
Krista Beauchamp and her mother Maryanne Heller, both of Calgary, have made the trip to Mundare for the past two years to visit the Ukrainian Catholic Golgotha of Mundare.
"I guess people think you have to be in Rome to really feel what a pilgrimage is all about," Beauchamp said. "I thought that too until I came here.
"Anywhere you go you can feel the presence of the Father. You can feel it just as well in Mundare than you can at the steps of the Vatican."
Beauchamp has learned a few tricks for this year's Mundare pilgrimage.
"Lots of sunscreen and bug repellent," she said. "You're outside a lot. The first time I was here I got so bugged by the mosquitoes I could barely concentrate on the reason why I was here."
Fritze warns people of the same problems when they go on pilgrimages, whether it be local or overseas.
"Be prepared for the environment you'll be in," he said.
He warns that people should recognize the area they are in and respect the people who live nearby. He also advises people to prepare so that they don't wear themselves out adapting to the local environment.
"If someone worries about the fact that the place they're staying in is not comfortable or they don't like the food, that really takes away from the real reason why they're there," Fritze said.
He also added that pilgrims should not expect extravagant shrines.
"A lot of the shrines people visit are not decorated like Disneyland," he said. "There aren't any fancy light shows. They are preserved in their natural way and have been there for years."
Many local shrines were built in the early 20th century. Some have received minor renovations for upkeep purposes, but no alterations have been done.
"We tell people to let themselves go and fill themselves with awe and wonder of the place they are in and not to look at it at face value," Fritze said.
"We have to make sure we work hard to not have this expectation of what it will look like, not to think of it as something in our own time."
Beauchamp likes the simplicity of shrines like the one in Mundare. "God, himself, is very simple," she said.
Here is a sampling of shrines and grottos throughout Canada, printed in The Novalis Guide to Canadian Shrines.
Grotto of Our Lady of the Rockies, Cardston
Pilgrimage day celebrates the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), usually in early June. During the summer months, Masses are occasionally celebrated at the grotto. (403) 653-3201.
Shrine of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, Eleske
Grotto is situated on a Beaver Indian Reserve in the northern part of the province. (780) 927-3219.
Shrine of Ste. Anne, Lac Ste. Anne
A Gothic wooden shrine houses the statue of Ste. Anne above the altar in a building which accommodates up to 4,000 people. During the pilgrimage there is a procession to the water's edge where a bishop walks into the lake and blesses the water. The crowd wades into the water after the blessing. Most pilgrims camp on site. (780) 924-3231.
Golgotha of Mundare, Mundare
A hill was built near the Basilian Fathers monastery there to resemble Mount Calvary. The 14th station of the cross leads to the top of the hill where a 17-metre metal cross stands. Pilgrimage is Sunday nearest the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29). (780) 764-3860.
Shrine of Our Blessed Mother, Raymond
The shrine is on a private farm. A Christmas gift of the Virgin Mary proved to be too big for the Kraupp family's living room, so the solution was to build a public outdoor shrine. Annual pilgrimage is the feast of Assumption (Aug. 15). (403) 752-3087.
Grotto of Mary, Skaro
The grotto is build of fieldstones on the side of a hill with tall evergreen trees in the background. In the cave of the grotto is the altar. Pilgrimage is the feast of the Assumption (Aug. 14-15). (780) 764-3860.
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, St. Albert
Includes outdoor grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and an altar for Mass. The open space in front of the grotto is flanked on both sides by the Stations of the Cross. (780) 459-2116.
Shrine of Our Lady of the Highway, Vegreville
A wayside shrine built by the Knights of Columbus for travellers. An outdoor area enclosed by spruce trees. At the centre is a circular concrete platform with a statue of Our Lady of the Highway. Around the platform are Stations of the Cross. (780) 632-3272.
Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Webster
Small Polish shrine open all year round. Pilgrimage day is the feast of Assumption (Aug. 15). (780) 532-2351.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Shrine, Cache Creek
The chapel is in the shape of trihedron and houses a wooden statue of Mary the Immaculate Heart. The chapel is surrounded by dry hills and desert scenery. (604) 457-8935.
Our Lady of Assumption Grotto, Fort St. James<
Built in 1981 in thanksgiving for all the frontier missionaries, nurses, teachers and others who came to work here. Grotto is on the spot where the first missionaries set up camp. Write to Our Lady of Assumption Grotto, Camp Morice, P.O. Box 877, Fort St. James, B.C. V0J 1P0.
Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Kronau
A fieldstone shrine is cut into a hill close to the Many Bones Creek. Annual pilgrimage day is second Sunday in August. (306) 885-2032.
Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Yorkton
A hand-painted icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was installed in the church of the same name. Also on the church grounds is a grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. (306) 783-4594.
Shrine of St. Theresa, Wakaw
Located in St. Theresa's Church, the shrine is the national shrine of St. Theresa of Lisieux. Pilgrimage days are the second Sunday of June and the first Sunday after the feast of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (Oct. 1). (306) 233-4230.
Canadian Martyrs' Shrine, Midland
The shrine honours 17-century Jesuit priests and their lay helpers who worked among the Hurons and eventually died for their faith. In 1984, Pope John Paul visited the site. Feast of the Canadian Martyrs is celebrated on the Saturday closest to Sept. 26. (705) 526-3788.
Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre, Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre
The oldest shrine in Canada. The famous statue of Ste. Anne carrying the child Mary stands in front of a sunburst on top of a pillar in the north transept of the basilica. The feast of St. Anne is July 26. (418) 827-3781.
St. Joseph's Oratory, Montreal
Sitting on Mont Royal in the centre of Montreal, this shrine is Canada's largest, drawing two million visitors a year. It was built through the efforts of Blessed Brother André, a Holy Cross brother who died in 1937 at the age of 91. Many healings were associated with Brother André and the discarded crutches of many who were healed are contained in the church. (514) 733-8211.
Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Johnstown
This is the only shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Canada. Pilgrimage day is Sunday closest to July 12. (902) 828-2317.
Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Flatrock
The shrine is a stone outcropping and overlooks Flatrock harbour. Pope John Paul stopped at the shrine during his 1984 Canadian visit. (709) 335-2863.