Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 29, 2002
Natives gather at Lac. Ste. Anne
Collins urges pilgrims to pray for those bound for World Youth Day
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"I feel close to the Lord here. It's such a sacred place."
- Bernadette Black
By 1886 there was little growth so the Oblates were ready to abandon the mission. Father Jean-Marie Lestanc made a visit to the shrine of Ste. Anne d'Auray in France and while praying there, a voice challenged his decision to close the mission and he changed his mind.
On his return, he built a new church at Lac Ste. Anne and organized the first pilgrimage of about 100 people in June 1889. He organized a second pilgrimage that summer which gave birth to the annual pilgrimages that have become a major religious event in the West.
The six days are a steady round of Eucharistic celebrations, holy hours, opportunities to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, veneration of the relic of St. Anne, blessing of the sick and taking of the sobriety pledge.
The blessing of the lake is one of the most meaningful events of the pilgrimage as hundreds of fully-clothed people of all ages wade into the lake to search for healing. They fill containers to take the water home for use throughout the year.
Following the first blessing of the lake July 21, pilgrims waded into the lake and surrounded Oblate Father Andrew Stendzina, who blessed each of them.
Upon receiving her blessing, Bernadette Black of Prince Albert, Sask., filled a jug with the water to take home. "I've been coming here since 1965," she said proudly. "I feel close to the Lord here. It's such a sacred place." What about the water? "It can help you with anything she said. It's blessed."
Alfred Naldzil, his wife Pauline and their adopted son John, 6, also waded into the water for a blessing and submerged themselves fully clothed into the blessed liquid.
"The priest blessed the water. My wife is sick (she has a problem in her hips) and we believe the water is going to help her," Naldzil said. "I have faith that the water will heal her."
Asked how she felt after been in the water, Pauline said, "A lot better."
The Naldzils have been coming to the pilgrimage since 1980. "We come here to pray and to meet some of our relatives," he said. "For us this is a faith and social event."
A group of 35 young people from Wollaston Lake, Sask. used this year's pilgrimage to show the strength of their faith. For two weeks they biked 1,400 km to Lac Ste. Anne to show they are ready to make sacrifices for their faith.
"I did it for God," said 15-year-old Amy Dnechezhe. "Now, I feel complete."
"I sacrificed myself for God," said Martina St. Pierre, 14. "It was my way of showing my faith. I hope it pleases God."
The group was received with a standing ovation at the shrine, where they related their adventure.
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