The Pilgrimage for Life concluded with two statues coming together after being taken in journeys of prayer from opposite ends of the country.
Statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary started their journeys at Bluff and Cape Reinga respectively as dawn broke on September 1.
They came together on September 18 at St Francis de Sales church in Island Bay in Wellington, one day before submissions closed on the Abortion Legislation Bill before Parliament.
The pilgrimage, organised by Auckland-based Family Life International, was arranged at short notice — two weeks!
Nearly every priest and parish approached for a visit by the pilgrimage said “yes” immediately, pilgrimage organisers said. Two parishes approached had commitments on the days the pilgrims and statue were scheduled to pass through.
At Cape Reinga, at dawn on September 1, twelve hardy pilgrims gathered around the Immaculate Heart of Mary statue to protect her from the Cape’s notorious winds, and, in Bluff, on the same day, seven determined and rugged-up souls surrounded the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue. With voices raised to heaven, these two groups prayed the rosary asking Our Lord and Our Lady to hear their pleas for the unborn.
Pilgrimage spokesperson Clare Dargaville said that, after the dawn rosaries, the two statues tiki-toured through the country, visiting a total of 60 parishes.
The Twin Hearts reached their final destination at St Francis de Sales, Island Bay, Wellington, on Wednesday, September 18. Fr Dennis Nacorda offered a beautiful Mass that evening and two sisters from Island Bay processed in carrying the two statues. Sr Pia from the Missionary Sisters of St Peter Claver carried the Immaculate Heart of Mary statue, while Sr Rachel from the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion carried the Sacred Heart statue. The statues were from FLI’s own chapel in Mt Roskill, Auckland.
“Afterwards, Fr Dennis had kindly organised a cup of tea and supper,” Mrs Dargaville said. “It was a wonderful way to end the journey, with people from parishes all over Wellington.”
Mrs Dargaville said that “All along the journey we encountered angels at every parish who stepped forward, often heroically, to help make this pilgrimage so successful. For example, 27 people helped transport the Sacred Heart statue from town to town and parish to parish in the South Island. Two of them were priests.”
She said three men deserve a special mention for the help they gave the pilgrimage — Tony Jenkinson, Pat Barrett and Nick Alexander.
“The itinerary involved many of the parishes that supported the Rosary Crusade for Life and Faith last December,” Mrs Dargaville added, “so in one way this was a ‘thank you’ to those parishes and we also knew we had priests and people on the ground who were pro-life, prayed the rosary, and could possibly help us at very short notice.”
“Wherever we went, people shared their churches, their meals, their homes, and their stories with us,”she said. “Fr Bill Fletcher from Wellsford even made soup for our lunch! It has been a truly humbling experience and the friendships we have made will be treasured.
“However, most importantly, it has been a very prayerful time. There were a total of 26 special Pilgrimage for Life Masses offered; the statues were present at 16 parish Masses, and parishioners from all over the country attended 65 Pilgrimage for Life rosaries, all with the intention of saving the lives of the unborn.”
Mrs Dargaville noted that Fr Wieslaw Pawlowski, SChr, offered seven of the Pilgrimage for Life Masses — in Dargaville, Northcote, Te Unga Waka, at FLI’s St John Paul II Centre for Life in Mt Roskill, in Tauranga, Rotorua and Taupo.
“As he often said during his sermons, ‘It will take a miracle to soften the hearts of the MPs who voted ‘Yes’, so we must pray, fast and sacrifice. But God needs to see we have done everything humanly possible first. We need to offer up our daily sufferings as well. Never waste sufferings’.”