Marian Pilgrimage journeys through Loveland with stop at St. Columban Church
First-hand account of Patty & Scott Mussari – By Scott Mussari for Loveland Beacon
LOVELAND, OH (June 10, 2021) – In the Bible, the Gospel of Luke mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus, traveling to visit her relative, Elizabeth. This event happened over 2,000 years ago, over on a distant continent.
Today, Mary is in the midst of an even lengthier journey, on our own city streets. To be more precise, it is a statue of Mary, modeled after Our Lady of Fatima, which is being carried around the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in the longest Marian Pilgrimage in the United States.
(Editor’s Note: The Pilgrimage began May 16, and will travel over 300 miles, visiting 36 parishes in 33 days finishing with a closing ceremony on June 19, 2021)
This past Tuesday, June 8, my beautiful wife, Patty, and I joined in on this spiritual expedition. We started out as spectators, yet quickly became participants fully drawn into the moment.
The day began at St. Margaret of York Church, and from there we walked among the crowd of fifty plus people, following behind this three-foot tall figure. Navigating through neighborhoods and down side streets, we processed primarily on sidewalks, although the route occasionally required tight- roping the curb of the road to avoid vehicular traffic.
As we were winding our way through Loveland, the impact of this trek came from meeting and befriending others walking alongside us. From babies in strollers, to senior citizens, from individuals there alone, to families with seniors in college; there were all ages and all size groups taking part in the walking, and in the talking about their personal stories. Mick recalled his past travels to Europe. Monica shared tales of her current job in health care. Jim envisioned his grandson’s upcoming future at Notre Dame. Hearing how their religious beliefs were intertwined and interwoven throughout their daily, and also their life-long experiences, was the positive catalyst that united all of us, even if we were together for only a few brief miles.
The second significant effect of this journey came when we paused at the Dairy Whip on W. Loveland Avenue, to switch out the people who were carrying the statue. Patty and I were invited to take a turn, and we gratefully accepted. Once we found our pace and the proper length of our strides, we got into a groove. We became more focused on the spiritual opportunity in front of us and began looking less upon the physical demands of carrying Mary. We were literally bringing this image of Mary, this symbol of our Christian faith, to others. Mary was leading the way, and this group of followers, this collection of believers, was openly declaring, through their action of walking with her, it is acceptable, even expected at times, to celebrate one’s religion.
By then, sweat had formed on our brows from walking up the hill on Paxton Street. But our spirits were lifted as we came around the bend before the traffic light near St. Columban Church, to see parishioners and other community members lining the sidewalk to greet Mary as we continued to lift up the statue for these final steps.
Our time on this journey ended there. The crowd who had gathered was the perfect culmination of our pilgrimage. The statue forged on, and headed toward Milford for its next destination, and will still be in motion until the closing ceremony on June 19. For Patty and me, our small involvement was a huge gift that brought even more joy to our happy hearts. It seems fitting this happened right here in Love-land.
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Scott Mussari is the Director of Faith Formation for St. Columban Church in Loveland, OH. He and his wife, Patty are the parents of four children: Anthony, Savannah, Jeremy and Michael. They are living their Catholic faith as active parishioners of St. Columban parish.
ADD NOTE: Photos by Cathy Nagy, St. Columban Coordinator of Communications & Events