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Diocesan pilgrims honor Mary at Holy Spirit Church

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For The Dialog

Guest speaker says imitating Mary’s life ‘enriches us’ and enables us to take the Word into the world

NEW CASTLE — Mary’s life remains a model for Christians today through her focus on what was really necessary, those attending the annual diocesan Marian Pilgrimage were told.

Her life was centered on the Word of God, including Jesus, the “Word became flesh” according to the Gospel of John, Anthony Esolen said at the Oct. 1 pilgrimage day at Holy Spirit Church.

Her lifelong meditation on the Word made her “a rich, rich woman” in what really counts from this life, said Esolen, a contributor to the Catholic magazines Crisis, Touchstone, The Catholic Thing and Magnificat. He teaches Renaissance English literature and the development of Western civilization at Providence College in Providence, R.I.

Mary’s example comes in the way she was rich, Esolen said. He noted that Jesus, in Matthew, Chapter 6, told his followers, “don’t lay up for yourself treasures on this earth; it must be left behind when you die.” Rather, one should “lay up for yourself treasures in heaven.” Those are the treasures that made Mary rich, Esolen said.

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Anthony Esolen

Next year the Marian Pilgrimage will be Sept. 30 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., said Father Brian Lewis, who coordinated the event. It will return to Holy Spirit on Oct. 6, 2018; plans are to rotate the observance between the National Shrine and Holy Spirit Church on an annual basis.

Theme for this year’s daylong program that included events for the entire family was Mary, Mother of Mercy, tying in with the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. Holy Spirit Church is home to the Mary, Queen of the Universe sculpture that overlooks I-295 at the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and also has a Jubilee Holy Door, designated by Bishop Malooly.

The pilgrimage fell on the First Saturday of October, which holds significance for those devoted to Mary. Many follow a First Saturday devotion in which they go to confession, receive Communion, and pray the rosary. The devotion began after the apparition of Mary to three children at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, ending in October. Mass started and ended the program, which also offered the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) and recitation of the rosary.

Mary Beth Payne of the World Apostolate of Mary’s Wilmington division noted that next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the apparitions. She called it “an honor to be here, to honor Mary.”

The pull of the First Saturday devotion led Dorothy Fischer of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish to the pilgrimage. “I wanted to observe First Saturday so I thought this was a great way to do it,” she said.

Esolen said he believes devotion to Mary was erroneously downplayed since the Second Vatican Council because of concern that the devotions placed too much emphasis on Mary, rather than God. Instead, he said that devotion to Mary, “imitating her life in her meditation on the Word of God in both life and the Scriptures, enriches us and provides the ability to take the Word into the everyday world.”