Moms Design School ‘Pilgrimages’ Honoring Mary
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
May 23, 2024
WOODSTOCK—Five mothers of students at St. Mary School decided this year to resurrect a great idea that happened once through the efforts of a small group of school mothers a few years ago.
Melinda Strange, Katie Czerkies, Kathryn Pollack, Maggie Selof, and Françoise Gonzales came together this year to design a Marian Pilgrimage to take place outside behind the school during the month of May, on May 14.
“The goal was to expose the children to a pilgrimage, teach them a little bit about the apparitions and the cultures (where they took place), and also to remember intentions for the student body and school, the principal (Mrs. Hillary Russell) and Father Burt (Absalon, pastor), and the eighth graders who will be graduating,” Strange said.
Students were gathered into four groups of two grades each after beginning the pilgrimage in St. Mary Church with an introduction to the event and to what a pilgrimage is. Then each group traveled to one of four sites that honored apparitions from four countries: Rwanda, Africa: Our Lady of Kibeho; Poland: Our Lady of Czestochowa; Portugal: Our Lady of Fatima; and Our Lady of Champion (Wis.) in the United States.
The mothers wanted the kids to realize that there is an approved Marian apparition even in the U.S., Strange says, adding that each mother chose an apparition they were drawn to, researched their choice and presented it to each of the groups as they traveled around the sites.
At each location, students also prayed a decade of the rosary, Tuesday’s traditional Sorrowful Mysteries. They used small, one-decade rosaries provided by the Men’s Club at St. Mary Parish. The pilgrimage ended with the final decade of the rosary prayed by all the students in the school’s Rosary Garden.
“Every year, our school has promoted the idea of a summer family pilgrimage,” Strange says. The school provides events in honor of the Blessed Mother each year, including having students bring flowers to Mary, and a presentation about the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother, she adds.
“We didn’t have a rubric for this,” Strange says. “We wanted to resurrect the (original idea) and honor Our Lady before the end of the year.”
The day’s persistent rain continued even as students entered the church for the pilgrimage 
introduction. But it stopped once they stepped outside, and the day brightened a bit as they learned about the various apparitions and prayed together to the Blessed Mother at the simple, yet impactful, event.


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