2019 Pilgrimage Raises $123,500 for Brothers and Sisters in Need

This year marked the 44th anniversary of the Pilgrimage which began at Notre Dame College School, in 1975. Over the years, the Pilgrimage has grown to include all secondary schools of the Niagara Catholic District School Board. On Sunday, October 27th, 2019 students and staff from our secondary schools braved the rain and wind, in a day of sacrifice, as they walked beside alumni, former staff and elementary students along canal banks, trails and city streets to support missions and projects around the world.

A total of $123,491 was raised across the eight schools for those in need.

Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School

Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School had a very successful Pilgrimage with the theme being Two Worlds, One Family. The day began with Mass in our gymnasium celebrated by Father Bill Derousie. The Mass was a great way to bring together all of our family of schools’ students and their families, along with Blessed Trinity’s staff and families, Trustee Leanne Prince and Superintendent Ted Farrell. The gospel message from Father Bill focused on the “who, what, when and why” for the Pilgrimage. We were united in faith, drawn together in a common mission, to help our brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic and God was with us. Our theme, Two Worlds, One Family reminded us that we are all children of God, called to love and serve those less fortunate around the world.

This year marked Blessed Trinity’s 16th annual Pilgrimage through the streets of Grimsby. We are proud that our students, in solidarity with all the students of Niagara Catholic, brought the gospel to life through this event. There was much uncertainty, as the weather was not cooperating, but the spirit of the Thunder Family could not be stopped from walking in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from Las Pajas. With 330 participants, Blessed 

Trinity certainly committed to challenge and eradicate poverty and walk the talk. Social justice is alive and flourishing at Blessed Trinity.

Denis Morris Catholic High School 

It’s never easy to ask teenagers to give up a Sunday morning, or to raise money, or to walk in the rain; but inspired by moving and true-life stories of hope and faith, the Denis Morris Catholic High School family accepted the challenge and continued the Pilgrimage tradition. The Denis Morris Pilgrimage theme, Let Love Rule was inspired by the words of Saint Paul to the Romans: “Do not conform to the patterns of this world, let your heart be transformed.” For our 26th straight year, Denis Morris students walked in solidarity for the students of Ecole Immaculee Conception in Pilot, Haiti. We walked to provide a better-quality education for our Haitian sisters and brothers, as well as better access to water for the people of Jalapa, Guatemala in support of the Wells of Hope campaign. There were about 300 Denis Morris Catholic pilgrims comprised of students, teachers, support staff, parents and friends who participated in the Pilgrimage. Despite the rain, spirits were high, and those who experienced the Mass and walk remarked on its very peaceful and uplifting message. In a spirited homily delivered by Father Don Lizzotti, we were reminded that walking in solidarity with the poorest of the world makes an impact in our local and global community. This annual event highlights the inspiring and important work commissioned by the Denis Morris Catholic High School family as members of the body of Christ. 

Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School

Despite the weather and early start time, about 150 Holy Cross students, staff and alumni gathered at the school to begin their Annual Pilgrimage. 

HC Pilgrimage group

Celebrating students’ commitment to hope, this year’s Pilgrimage theme was Hope in Haitian Creole. The scripture inspiration was “We are all one in Christ.” Gal. 3:28. Before departure, our prayer focused on commitment and how actions speak louder than words. Before finishing our Pilgrimage, we met Denis Morris and Saint Francis students, staff and school community at the St. Catharines Market Square. After celebrating Mass, we left for the final leg of our Pilgrimage through the streets of downtown St. Catharines. We returned to a light lunch and fellowship.

The money we raised will be going to help students at Sainte-Croix de Thibodeau School in Haiti. Among other things, the school needs assistance with educational materials, repairing classrooms and providing children with their hot meal for the day. We are optimistic that our contribution will help bring hope to those at Sainte-Croix de Thibodeau.

Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School

At Saint Francis this year, students formed a committee in early September to develop this year’s theme. Starting with the theme song Higher Love students decided to ask their colleagues to Look inside your heart and find it within themselves to turn up and contribute to this year’s Pilgrimage. An assembly was held in early October to officially kick off the Pilgrimage season followed by various chapel presentations and a campaign that included announcement prayers and classroom throw-downs.

Approximately 150 to 200 students braved the weather to walk the walk on Pilgrimage Sunday. The day began with registration and a prayer service in the gymnasium and this year, a surprise visit from special guests Rita and Geoff Doppenberg of the Centro de Esperanza in Guatemala. Part of our funds will help a young man with autism named Javier attend school and receive physiotherapy. Rita and Geoff were presented with a Pilgrimage t-shirt which will be given to Javier later this week. Students then marched tothe Market Square, where the rain held off until the last kilometre. Upon arriving at the Market Square, we joined with our brothers and sisters from Denis Morris and Holy Cross and celebrated Mass together. Fr Lizzotti reminded students to continue to fight the good fight and keep the faith. Following Mass, the three schools joined in their walk through downtown St. Catharines.

Lakeshore Catholic High School

Lakeshore Catholic has been walking a pilgrimage for 20 years to support a few organizations in Dominica. The organizations which inspired the pilgrims this year were varied. St. John’s Primary School is a privately assisted school, known for its Catholic identity and the academic and moral uplifting of all. The Grange Nursing Home for Seniors and CALLS, a Centre where Adolescents Learn to Love and Serve were also motivation for the Pilgrims.

This year about 200 staff and students walk the Pilgrimage with the theme We Will Walk You! Lakeshore Catholic students and staff gathered in the auditorium on the morning of Sunday, October 27th to celebrate Mass with Bishop Bergie. The pilgrims then embarked on their walk along a new city route. The five-kilometre inner-city route took them across two bridges and allowed them to engage with community members about the purpose of the walk. The pilgrims returned to Lakeshore Catholic for lunch and fellowship when the walk was completed.

Notre Dame College School

Since 1976, the students and staff of Notre Dame have gathered on a Sunday late in October to put their feet to the Gospel through the Annual Pilgrimage 

for the Developing World. For this, our 44th Pilgrimage, our theme was Plant the Seed of Change inspired by the parable of the Mustard Seed and the Sower. We used these Gospel images to explore how we are each called in our own daily lives to nurture small changes for the common good. On October 9th we kicked off our Pilgrimage campaign with our grade level education assemblies. Students from our Social Climate Committee created and led the assemblies, which focused on the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable in our world and our call as followers of Christ to care for creation as well as the poor. In addition to raising funds for our partners in the developing world, we were all challenged to make changes in our daily habits to help lessen our carbon footprint, such as carpooling, walking or biking to school, reducing the amount of waste we create by packing lunch in reusable containers and by avoiding single-use products. We led by example using “good on one side” paper and recycled items to create our posters and art installations to promote our Pilgrimage.

After all of this hard work and a cold, rainy, and windy walk for 14 kilometres along the Welland Canal, we gathered in our holy place, Dillon Hall, for our Pilgrimage Mass and Candlelight Liturgy. Fr. James Mulligan CSC, the founder of the Annual Pilgrimage, was our celebrant, along with Fr. Al Mahoney CSC, Fr. Don Layden CSC, and Fr. Gerald Cormier CSC. Our estimated 850 pilgrims including students, staff, alumni, parents, siblings, and students from all of our feeder schools attended the Mass. Half of the money raised this year will go to Development and Peace, for its projects throughout the global south. One quarter will go to Yancana Huasy, a school and rehabilitation facility outside Lima, Peru, run by the Holy Cross Fathers. It serves children with physical and intellectual disabilities. The other quarter will go to the Dominican Canadian Community Development Group, an organization started by Notre Dame Alumni. It serves those living in rural communities in the Dominican Republic.

We are grateful to all who work so diligently to keep this tradition alive year after year.

Saint Michael Catholic High School

On Sunday, October 27th, students from Saint Michael walked together with Saint Paul in our annual Pilgrimage. This year’s theme was With Faith and Action, Nothing is Impossible.

We began our Pilgrimage journey this year with a kick-off assembly that was themed around taking a journey to Rwanda. A great deal of support and enthusiasm was shown for our Pilgrimage which inspired us throughout our pilgrimage season.

Pilgrimage Sunday started with Father Paul McNeil presiding over Mass, followed by our cold, wet walk through Niagara Falls. The Saint Michael students were walking to support the Hope for Rwanda’s Children Fund, which provides scholarships and educational assistance to the descendants of the victims of the Rwandan genocide. We had 422 students walking, plus staff and Saint Michael family members acting as crossing guards and supervisors for the walk. We are grateful to the entire Saint Michael community for their support. Students successfully braved the rain and the wind and even despite a power outage, it was a great day!

Saint Paul Catholic High School

On Pilgrimage Sunday, approximately 200 Saint Paul Catholic High School students, staff and feeder school students walked in solidarity for Haiti. We raised money for our sister school Ste. Croix de Milot in Milot, Haiti. The funds raised will allow Ste. Croix de Milot to add classrooms to the existing school, have local carpenters build classroom desks and purchase chalkboards, paper and pencils.

We had the pleasure of sharing our morning with Saint Michael Catholic High School. We celebrated Mass in the morning together, officiated by Father Paul MacNeil. We then walked in solidarity to complete an approximate eight-kilometre walk within the south end of Niagara Falls. Our theme throughout our weeks of planning and preparation was to focus on the words from 1 Corinthians 16:14, Let all that you do, be done in love. The Bible challenges us to be motivated by love. To achieve this, we must stay close to God because God is love and He teaches us what love looks like, even in the worst of times. This Pilgrimage, allowed everyone to see and experience God as He was meant to be, in all his fullness and grace. This year’s Pilgrimage Sunday was inspiring. Walking together with a common goal, we displayed our connection to others and our faithfulness. The motivation to walk the 

Annual Pilgrimage may have varied from school to school; some walked to provide clean water to people thousands of miles away, others walked to help educate children in small villages, and others walked to help seniors age with dignity. A constant for the past 44 years has been the desire to share Christ’s love and inspire hope in others by providing for their basic needs. 

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