Pilgrims gather for uplifting spiritual journey
By Wendy Shaw
Parishioners were urged to contemplate the passion of Christ during a pilgrimage on the eve of Palm Sunday in Launceston.
More than 50 parishioners joined the pilgrimage on a sunny autumn afternoon on Saturday, 1 April.
The pilgrims started out from St Finn Barr’s Catholic Church in Invermay and followed a 10km route through Launceston’s trails, reserves and parks before arriving at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Newstead for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and a Vigil Mass.
The driving force behind the pilgrimage was Launceston Catholic parishioner and keen bushwalker Martin Mackowski.
“The pilgrim journey is a symbol of our lives. It has a beginning and an end and there will be some happy moments and other times it will be a struggle,” Mr Mackowski told pilgrims at the outset.
Pilgrims carried a stone and a palm-frond cross.
“The stone represents the things in our life that weigh us down, our daily problems, troubled relationships, our health issues, our sins that cause us to turn from God,” Mr Mackowski added.
“The palms are our symbol of praise to God and we give thanks for all the wonderful gifts that God has given us in our lives and the blessing we receive from Him for our families, friends and those that love and help us.”
There was a blessing and prayer at St Finn Barr’s at the start of the pilgrimage and a reflective address from Launceston Parish Assistant Priest Fr Jessie Banez at the halfway point.
Fr Banez reminded pilgrims that Palm Sunday is a time to reflect on Jesus as He enters Jerusalem anticipating His own suffering and crucifixion.
“Some may be interpreting His arrival as a kind of glory as king, but no, it is suffering and He is contemplating the destiny that He is facing in Jerusalem so we remember the passion of Jesus Christ and we observe this as a solemn, silent and prayerful time,” Fr Banez said
As pilgrims gathered at the start of the walk, Mr Mackowski was delighted with the attendance and said he hoped it becomes an annual event. He said there were spiritual and physical benefits to the “uplifting” pilgrimage.
“This brings the church outdoors and as we walk we can appreciate nature and gain spiritual insights,” he added. “We can reflect on the Palm Sunday theme and gain some fulfilment from being in prayer in a quiet outdoor environment and be closer to God.”