Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 24, 2009
Skaro Pilgrimage provides a spiritual touchstone
Generations of faith-filled families worship at the grotto each year
WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Larry and Brenda Weidman know their granddaughter Faustina Maria will keep the family's Skaro tradition.
Devotion to the Virgin Mary is the main reason pilgrims have been flocking to this shrine some 80 km northeast of Edmonton for the past 91 years.
After the evening Mass, a procession with a statue of Mary was held around the grotto. Participants sang devotional hymns and carried lit candles as they followed the procession.
During the healing Mass the following morning, the congregation lined up to be anointed with sacred oil by one of the priests. Many stayed for lunch outdoors following the service.
"My dad was in the Canadian Armed Forces (in Ottawa) and we would come back here for our holidays in August in order to be here for the pilgrimage," related Weidman, a member of Edmonton's Good Shepherd Parish. "This is where my mother (Jean Parasynchuk) grew up so this is home for me," she said, gesturing towards the grotto.
Weidman's grandparents, Peter and Annie Parasynchuk, are part of the first 100 families who built the grotto.
"One reason we come is that Aug. 14 is the anniversary of my mother's death (some 50 years ago)," the woman explained. "The other is to celebrate the feast of the Assumption."
Added Weidman: "Basically this is the foundation of our faith life and my parents have been a great example.
"It is a place of peace and a place of comfort for us. And it is coming home. This hasn't changed. Everything else has changed. We have moved to many places but this has stayed the same."
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