The 2015 Yearly Pilgrimage to Emaus
Once more this year’s pilgrimage for the two provinces of Mariannhill and Mthatha of the CMM and CPS witnessed the participation of many lay people who joined us. Since the last few years we have progressively opened our pilgrimage also to lay people who have a true veneration for Abbot Francis. And to our satisfaction, many responded. In short, we had a good crowd.
This year’s theme was Abbot Francis, A Man Totally Committed to His Religious and Missionary Vocation. This theme arose from the special year of Consecrated Life, which is a privileged occasion for religious to renew themselves.
Verse 17 of the first reading “Brothers, be united in imitating me” pointed to Paul as a model; more precisely, to the model of a man totally committed to his vocation. In the same way we were invited to remain united to Abbot Francis who was also fully dedicated to his vocations as religious and missionary and to look at him as a special model for us. The gospel stated that Jesus’ commitment is rooted in or comes from his Father’s love; therefore he “remained in him.” This was a clear invitation for us to also remain in him. Just like Abbot Francis did. We were reminded therefore that this stability in God’s love lies in the Ora of the famous Ora et Labora or, in other words, in the contemplative aspect of our lives.
Part of the crowd beginning the stations of the cross
The president and homilist of the Eucharistic celebration was a great friend of Mariannhill, Bishop Emeritus Hubert Bucher – who lives at Mater Dolorosa. As to the choir it was made of the group of our CMM novices and of a group of young CPS sisters. Needless to say that their execution, which was great, helped a packed assembly to make of its prayer a radiant celebration. Among other things, right from the beginning they vibrantly connected us to Abbot Francis himself with their execution of O Francis Pfanner and inspiring words like “You told us once: The flame of your true zeal let it soar!” and “Each good and true grace and each good thought, Each holy hope of heart, all comes from God!”
A few years ago we stopped ending our pilgrimage with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament because the via crucis was taking a bit more time than before; we then opted for a more personal commitment. Each pilgrim was strongly invited to go to the “memorial room” – where Abbot Francis died – and there to take a few minutes of personal prayer to submit to Abbot Francis one or several personal intentions or to entrust to him the needs of other people, this just before leaving the place. This seems to be successful.