Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 6, 1999
Cree Nation hosts annual pilgrimage
Special to the WCR
Pilgrims from all directions and nations came together at the shrine on St. Joseph's Hill in Kehewin to pay homage to the Holy Family - St. Joseph, Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ - as well as the Holy Spirit and God the Father.
The annual St. Joseph's Pilgrimage Aug. 12-15, hosted by the Kehewin Cree Nation and Our Lady of Mercy Church and prayer group, "was a remarkable celebration and profession of Catholic faith, of prayer, of devotion, of love and of praise to the Holy Family," wrote Harvey Young Chief.
Young Chief, a member of the Kehewin Cree Nation, added that the pilgrimage was doubly blessed as pilgrims celebrated Sunday Mass and the feast of Assumption.
The pilgrimage, which dates back to the mid-1940s, averaged 150 visitors a day. An estimated 500 people attended the Sunday Mass.
Guest speakers included Tom Rutkoski, Pedro Noquez and Byron Fester. Rutkoski's wife Mary shared with the audience her journey to God after years of shunning him.
Mary Rutkoski also encouraged husbands and wives not to give up on their loved one's conversion and healing.
"She spoke of the patience and understanding required during the conversion process, however long it takes," said Young Chief. "She was honest about her feelings of isolation, of low self-worth, of embarrassment, of inner turmoil as her husband Tom became more involved in his evangelical work and conversion.
"She eventually came to accept God as she opened her heart and soul to his teachings through her attendance at (more than) 200 of Tom's ministries all over the United States.
"The message she shared was both nourishing and refreshing in reflecting the teamwork required of husband and wife in the service of God."
Along with Confession, rosary, Mass, spiritual teachings, Marian devotions and music ministry, the event also honoured the dedication of Gus and Sue Dion who were presented with a plaque of recognition by the St. Joseph's Prayer Group.
"The sentiments expressed by the elders and pilgrims evoked memories of the past pilgrimages of the devout Catholic brothers and sisters who initiated and participated in the St. Joseph's Pilgrimage," Young Chief said.
"The elders are hopeful that by their example of faith and the continued worship by the faithful, future generations of pilgrims from all over the world will come and pay homage and honour St. Joseph at the shrine."