Last Saturday morning we received a visit from over 200 young people … all at once! Lucky for us our time together was spent outside in the garden. The young people and their chaperones represented the Brookewood and Avalon Schools, two independent Catholic schools (one all girls and the other all boys) in suburban Washington.
Each year the two schools make a joint pilgrimage to local churches, and this year it was decided that the event would be in honor of the Year of Consecrated Life. We had encountered one of Brookewood’s directors at an archdiocesan event last December and encouraged him to consider including our home in the 2015 pilgrimage route…. Then we forgot all about this encounter … until two weeks ago when the collecting Sisters met this gentleman again at a church collection.
The group arrived right on schedule Saturday morning, walking over from the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 9:50 to the peals of our home’s historic bells. This, the group later said, made them feel very special. Several high school girls carried a statue of the Virgin Mary entitled Our Lady of Purity, as kids of all ages ran, skipped and marched around them, stopping at the statue of Saint Jeanne Jugan facing our front door.
Mother Mary Michael quickly distributed prayer cards and bookmarks with the prayer for the Year of Consecrated Life, then we all recited the prayer and a Hail Mary together. A whole group of kids and chaperones, including a young woman originally from Colombia, then gathered around Sr. Marie Mathilde de la Croix, amazed at her age and ability to speak three languages. As usual she charmed everyone, especially when she gave several of them her blessing.
Just as quickly as they had arrived, the group set off down our driveway for their next stop in what was to be a 10-stop, 20-mile day. We marveled at the youthful enthusiasm of the group, took a breather, and then headed inside to get ready for the day’s activities with the Hospitality Club, our regular teenage volunteers who spend one Saturday a month with us!