The Servant Brothers of the Home of the Mother from the communities of Guayaquil and Manabi celebrated the anniversary of the foundation of the male branch of the Home of the Mother of the youth by going on a pilgrimage with young men to the shrine of Our Lady of the Cisne in Loja. The goal of this pilgrimage was to give thanks to God for these 35 years of existence and to pray for the fidelity of all the members of the Home, so that we may truly become the gifts that the Lord wants to give to His Mother.
This was our first time going on a pilgrimage to this shrine. Tuesday, December 26th, we left Guayaquil by bus at 10:00PM. We tried to sleep on the bus as best as we could in order to take advantage of the little time we had on the pilgrimage. We reached Loja at 6:30AM and ate breakfast right away. Our first morning we visited the Cathedral and the Church of St. Dominic Guzman. We were impressed by the crucifix in the Cathedral that showed the body of our Lord very wounded by the scourging. We also liked the altar piece that was covered in gold and had Our Lady in the middle. We also enjoyed seeing the huge Nativity scene at the entrance. We had Mass there in the Cathedral, feast day of St. John the Evangelist, and Br. Joe Bloomer gave the homily.
After Mass we went to buy lunch. The Lord tried our patience while we looked for public transportation to the seminary, which is where we were staying. We ended up getting a taxi and were finally able to arrive. The director of the seminary, Fr. Jaime, and the cook welcomed us warmly. The seminary is located in a field surrounded by beautiful, green mountains. We Servant Brothers felt like we were in Barcenilla in Cantabria, Spain.
After all the walking we had done, we ate lunch heartily in the dining room. In the afternoon we made the most of the grassy field to play soccer while a few drops of rain fell. Later we went into the coliseum to play a bit of basketball. After the sports, we prayed the Rosary around the manger scene and sang songs between the mysteries. It was one of the best moments of the pilgrimage. We prayed like a family: devotedly and joyfully.
We had dinner followed by a group discussion about the Home of the Mother Youth and its history. Some of the boys shared their experiences of how it has helped their spiritual life. We read a few paragraphs of Fr. Felix’s testimony, which explained how he along with other young men made their commitment to begin the HMY at St. Peter’s tomb in Rome. We realized what a responsibility and privilege it is to be called to the Home and to be faithful to the commitments in order to bear fruit, like we saw in Fr. Felix’s example.
The next day we got up early to go to the bus station and take a bus that would bring us to Our Lady of the Cisne, which is an hour and a half away from Loja. We arrived at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Cisne and were impressed by the basilica’s exterior and interior beauty. We had Mass with several priests from different countries. The church was packed. After Mass, the priests stayed to hear Confessions. An older man who hadn’t been to Confession since his First Holy Communion went to Confession. We had lunch there and then returned to the seminary.
It was a clear day and we made the most of it with a soccer game, Manabi vs. Guayaquil. After the game we prayed the Rosary with songs, then had dinner. We played a game called “Families,” and had a great time. When we finished the game we went to the bus station to take a bus that night to Guayaquil to arrive in the morning.
Thanks be to God, there was a very joyful atmosphere and a sense of unity among the boys. Hopefully what we received from the pilgrimage may continue to grow and bear fruit in our souls.