The Sisters of St. Basil the Great of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Province host clergy, grandparents, parents, children, aunts, uncles, nieces & nephews who continue the tradition of gathering together, some from thousands of miles away, to be with one another worshiping God and asking Mary for her intercession. Everyone also experiences the beautiful grounds of Mount Macrina and enjoy one another’s company eating at Light Lunch, the Racetrack or many of the restaurants that have sprung up along Main St. over the past few decades.
In my experience it’s like a religious gymnasium. There’s plenty of prayerful services to participate in and there’s rolling hills to negotiate between each altar, shrine or other venue. It’s also a family reunion. During the weekend I visit immediate family (including lots of cousins & their children) and many others I know from: multiple parishes I’ve visited, clergy from all four eparchies in the USA & one eparchy in Canada and friends I’ve met at past Otpusts. Since I have grandparents, a godparent, aunts & uncles buried in the cemetery there, our family and some friends have our own Panachida for the deceased at the individual grave sites. We say the rosary too.
After Saturday and Sunday evening candle light processions on the Mount we go back to the hotel. Family and friends bring in food and play cards while looking through old & new family pictures, reminiscing and catching up with one another’s lives.
Pilgrims leave the Mount refreshed with uplifted spirits. Sister Seraphim Olsafsky, provincial of the Sisters of St. Basil, at the end of Sunday’s 4 p.m. Divine Liturgy said, “Your presence lights up this mount, and the shadow casts a peaceful glow over Mount St. Macrina throughout the year.” That sentiment is a 2-way street. Thank you, Sisters of St. Basil.
On the way home, and at the following Sunday’s church social at St. Athanasius the Great parish, I enjoy the medovniki (honey cakes) purchased at the pilgrimage. According to their flyer the medovniki is “shared with those who were not able to attend.” So I bring medovniki back to Indianapolis every year. (Note: our parish bakers also make a version of these honey cookies at the church at other times of the year. It’s not the Sisters’ recipe, which is a highly guarded secret, but ours are really good too. I will concede that the Sisters and their volunteer bakers really know how to decorate the cookies.)
The pilgrimage started in 1935. Next year will be the 80th. Put this on your to-do list for 2014. I plan to return and hope to see you there.
… John Danovich