For the 22nd year, the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception aided by many volunteers held its traditional Marian Festival in October.
Like every year, Sister Jacqueline Brage, originator of the project, is there surrounded by about twenty volunteers and close to a hundred participants to pray, meet, sing and understand Mary. The goal of this project, which gains increasingly in popularity, is to raise awareness about the Virgin Mary, and to sustain the love and devotion to Mary, Jesus’s Mother.
This year, the participants – for the most part Spanish-speaking – were invited to spend a full day at St. Gilbert parish. This inter-parish gathering “was a tribute to the Virgin Mary in any possible way and form through: teachings, songs, testimonies, prayers,” organizer and Marian inter-parish team member Eliana Jaramillo, from the Office for Faith Education.
On a Mission With Mary
The day started with a missionary rosary followed by an hour in adoration to celebrate Pope Francis’s missionary month. “Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on a mission in the world” is the mission’s team viewed as a proposal of the faith from God to humankind.
Sulpician Fr. Jorge Pacheco, P.S.S., held three catechism classes on that day under the theme “Meeting others with Mary.” These classes lead the participants to reflect on their own mission and on how it should unfold. A time for sharing followed on the Magnificat.
Events were held between each catechism classes: little concerts, dancing and singing, but also a potluck. “Here I find a sense of peacefulness and family,” explains Magaly who attended the Festival from the very beginning. “When it comes to Mary, she’s a veteran,” Sr. Jacqueline says, smiling. Magaly felt the words of the Virgin Mary telling her 22 years ago: “You will sing for me.” She has been singing upon requests ever since. This is how she thanks the Lord and the Virgin Mary for having comforted her during difficult times. “The Lord grants us with gifts we need to share and use with others.” This is Magaly’s mission.
At the end of the day, Archbishop Lépine was there to meet the participants and to celebrate the closing Mass.
The parish pastor, Fr. Jean Braconin, pronounced at the beginning of the Mass: “Con Cristo…” (With Christ…) and the assembly answered in one voice: “Todo” (Everything!), “Sin Cristo…” (Without Christ…), “Nada!” (Nothing!). The tone was set, in a church filled to capacity for a joyful and fervent celebration.
At the beginning of his homily, Archbishop asks the assembly if living in this world was hard. As the assembly was responding in the affirmative, he showed that life was at times a real burden in both the Old and the New Testaments. Yet, as the people of Israel and St. Paul did, one must “ask God to have the strength to remain faithful, in love and calm.” As a leitmotif, repeated and translated into Spanish by Fr. Jean Braconin, Archbishop Lépine repeated many times that plea people can address to God. If making such request can be at times difficult, then one must ask the Virgin Mary openly, as she is also there to “help us find the strength to remain faithful, peaceful and in love.”
The conclusion of this day devoted to Mary was met with many thanks, warm applause and joyful and lively songs to celebrate Christ and the Virgin Mary!