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Parish walking pilgrimage

Wearing bright orange T-shirts with the word “pilgrim” lettered in black across the front, a dozen people from Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Springfield embarked on a two-day pilgrimage to pray, listen to God and build community.
They began with a July 1 Mass at St. Joseph Church in Chester, celebrated by their pastor, Father Peter Y. Williams, who on July 6 will become administrator of that parish as well. Father James E. Zuccaro, current pastor, concelebrated.
The Springfield parish has dedicated this year to Our Lady, so the selected destination of the 24-mile walking pilgrimage is the replica of Mary’s House at Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer in Jamaica, where Sunday Mass was to be celebrated.
“We want to honor her and keep her in our thoughts” during the walk, Father Williams said in his homily. “We know Christ is our companion on the way, but we know we need her as well. … She gives us a great example of courage, to persevere.”
This is the second year parishioners of the Springfield Catholic church have undertaken a summer walking pilgrimage; last year they walked 40 miles from St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte to St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.
During their walking time, pilgrims spend some time in silence, some in group prayer and some in private devotions.
There were five “rules” for the pilgrimage: Be quiet and listen to God. Change your heart and ask God for one thing to change. No complaining. Build community; talk to someone new. Look forward as redemption and resurrection are ahead.
“We hope to be an example of what true Christians should be like and not be afraid to share our faith and that we have love for God,” said return participant Paul Kimball, explaining what he hoped to witness as he walked to Jamaica wearing his “pilgrim” T-shirt.
“This is a walking retreat,” added his wife, Eileen. She also likes being outside, getting to know other people in the parish and the awareness of God’s presence at all times.
“It’s that feeling of community and joining with fellow parishioners and bringing praise and glory to God and pushing yourself beyond your normal limit,” said parishioner Lori Limoges, explaining her reason for participating in the pilgrimage for the second year.
The pilgrims – whose gear was transported for them by truck – planned to stay overnight at a campground in Winhall.
Other parishioners were to join them for segments of the pilgrimage.
“I feel proud to be part of this,” Limoges said.
Donna-Rae Grant, a parishioner on the pilgrimage for the first time, had one concern: the rain in the forecast. “But we have all our trust in Jesus,” she said with a smile.
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