Members of the six parishes that make up the Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community are making a pilgrimage to Bethlehem this Advent. They’ll make the trip without ever leaving the Finger Lakes region, however, as they are embarking on a spiritual journey, not a physical one.
The journey began Dec. 3, when parishioners gathered at St. Patrick’s Parish in Prattsburg for a pot-luck soup supper followed by evening prayer. The pilgrimage continued the next week at St. Andrew’s Parish in Dundee, and will conclude Dec. 17 at St. Mary’s Parish in Rushville.
The Advent pilgrimage follows the same format as the Lenten pilgrimage the community hosted last spring. During that event, the six parishes took turns hosting Lenten soup suppers and Stations of the Cross each Friday of Lent. For Advent, parishioners will pray the Liturgy of the Hours instead of the Stations after finishing their soup suppers.
The Catholic community decided to schedule an Advent pilgrimage after the Lenten experience received excellent feedback from parishioners, according to Father Robert Ring, pastor.
“One of the things people said last year was, ‘We’ll have to do this again, we can’t wait until Lent.’ I assume we’ll have a good turnout again,” Father Ring said.
The turnout at last spring’s Lenten pilgrimage was surprisingly good, he added. The first stop had been at St. Andrew’s Parish — one of the smaller churches in the community — where 80 to 90 people came out for dinner and prayer, he said.
“It really surprised us somewhat. Most of the Fridays we had anywhere from 100 to 150 people. We pretty much packed all the places that we did it. Previously for Stations of the Cross there wasn’t a very large turnout,” Father Ring said.
The pilgrimages are aimed at promoting a sense of community among the parishes while helping people make time to pray during Advent and Lent. Especially during Advent, people are pulled in a number of different directions, and the pilgrimage helps them to slow down for one night each week and think about what matters, Father Ring said.
“It seems a real good opportunity for community building and to get people together for prayer,” Father Ring said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on the last leg of the Advent pilgrimage, contact the Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community office at 315/536-7459.