Catholic Vancouver Aug. 7, 2017

Annual Mission pilgrimage will honour Our Lady of Fatima this year

By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Pilgrims walk toward the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Mission in 2016. (BCC file photo)

MISSION—A popular pilgrimage site in Mission may see more pilgrims than usual this summer.

The Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto annually attracts about 3,000 people on the third Saturday in August to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. This year, however, has an added twist: it is the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima.

“It’s a celebration of Mary. Mary leads us to Jesus,” said event volunteer Jack Ethier.

In honour of the significant anniversary, pilgrims will carry a statue of Our Lady of Fatima (instead of the usual statue of Our Lady of Lourdes) in a procession towards the grotto.

Ethier said the statue of Mary at the grotto, which stands on the top of a hill in Fraser Valley Heritage Park, is a big hit among the pilgrims who go there. “The people always come by in droves to touch the statue and to say a prayer,” he said.

The people always come by in droves to touch the statue and to say a prayer.
Jack Ethier

The area grotto was first built in 1892, 25 years before Mary appeared in Fatima, and was B.C.’s first Marian shrine. It fell into disuse and was taken apart, but rebuilt and reopened in 1997.

Now, annually for the Feast of the Assumption, a few thousand pilgrims visit Fraser Valley Heritage Park to participate in the sacrament of confession, Mass, and a procession up the hill to the grotto. At the top of the hill, they pray the rosary, touch the statue, collect holy water from a fountain installed last year, and make their way back down the hill for a picnic lunch.

A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes is seen in a crowd of pilgrims walking in a procession toward the grotto in 2016. (BCC file photo)

The grotto isn’t the only site at the park with historic and religious significance. It also houses an Oblate cemetery and the ruins of a former residential school.

“It’s important to have the participation of the First Nations people,” Ethier said. They often lead the procession with drumming.

The pilgrimage is set for Aug. 19 this year. More information is available here.