July 25, 2019

While walking pilgrimages to Cooks Creek for their pilgrimage weekend were once quite common, the tradition has slowly faded away, existing only as a memory in the minds of those who participated. This year, faithful can once again participate in the walking pilgrimage that was once a thing of the past.

Since August of 2016, a small but dedicated group has coordinated a walking pilgrimage each year from the outskirts of Winnipeg to the town of Cooks Creek. Fr. Mykhaylo Khomitskyy of the Rossburn Pastoral District and Seminarian Alex Pankiw have lead groups of varying size in the 15-20km pilgrimage. This year, a pilgrimage of 17km is planned as the Ukrainian Catholic Parish of the Immaculate Conception hosts the 65th Annual Pilgrimage.

A pilgrimage is not simply a walk from point A to point B. Rather, it is an ancient tradition that is very much in tune with today's needs. A pilgrimage is a meaningful journey to a sacred place. It provides the opportunity to step out of the non-stop busyness of our lives, to seek a time of quiet and reflection. It gives us the chance to 'walk through' those issues that we have on our minds, whatever they might be. It is a time of simply 'being' rather than always 'doing'.

Pilgrimage can also be a highly sociable activity, allowing us to enjoy the company of others we meet on the road. It gives us the chance re-energise mentally, physical and spiritually. And it allows us to reconnect with our cultural heritage and the natural world-as well as to refresh our faith or seek spiritual direction.

Some common reasons for partaking in a pilgrimage include setting aside time for God and to feel closer to Him, to discern His will and guidance at times of transition or difficulty, to be strengthened in faith, to feel inspired by the communion of saints who have gone before us, or simply to ask for intercession or offer thanks for God's graces.

In Manitoba, we are so fortunate to have The Ukrainian Catholic Parish of the Immaculate Conception, and the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. They serve as sacred spaces where we can bring our prayers to the Lord, asking the intercession of His Most Holy Mother. We can recall the function that this holy place has served for our Archeparchy, bringing our ancestors into a deeper spiritual union with God. Perhaps on the occasion of the 65th Anniversary of the Marian Pilgrimage to Cooks Creek we can find an opportunity between August 16-18 to come to the Church and Grotto and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all of God's blessings in our life. If perhaps we do not feel so 'blessed' maybe this is a time to bring those words and feelings to God. Making time in our busy lives for God is not so much a luxury as it is essential. If you have felt distant from God, perhaps this is the opportunity you've sought out to reconnect with Him.

There are myriad reasons to partake in a pilgrimage, be it physical or spiritual. This year find one of those reasons to join the faithful of the Archeparchy for a portion or the entirety of the pilgrimage weekend.

If you would like to participate in the 17km walking pilgrimage to Immaculate Conception Parish, please find more information HERE for registration go HERE.

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