During the Labor Day weekend break, from August 31st to September 3rd, 17 high school girls and 5 sisters went on a pilgrimage to Miami. It was a beautiful trip, full of surprises and blessings for everyone.
Sienna Miller, one of the girls who attended shares her experience of the pilgrimage:
“Having recently gone to summer camp in the Georgia mountains with the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, I was really excited when I found out that they would be taking a mini-pilgrimage down to Miami. At first, I didn’t even know what we would be doing but one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to be a part of it!”
The 31st of August, a Friday afternoon, we loaded up the two vans and headed off on the journey towards Miami. Along the way, we made some stops to pick up more girls along the way from different parts of Florida. One of our stops along the way was a surprise, especially for one of the girls whose birthday was that day. We made a visit to Jesus in an adoration chapel in Melbourne and had a picnic dinner right on the water and celebrated with birthday cake.
The next day, Saturday, we heard the testimony of a newly married couple who were very generous for opening their home for us to stay in. The girls really enjoyed hearing their testimony and it encouraged them to really live radically their faith in their lives. After the testimony, we got back into the vans to pick up some lunch to eat along the way to Our Lady of Schoenstatt Shrine. We spent the afternoon there with time in prayer in the Shrine, hearing the testimony of one of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, and also playing games in the field by some avocado trees. That evening we went to Mass at St. Augustine Church in Miami.
Sienna continues: “Saturday night Sister Kelai gave a talk and asked us if we thought we were ready to face death. I thought about Sister Clare in Ecuador and how the sisters and candidates had had a similar conversation before the earthquake. When she asked us if we felt ready to face death, my first thought was that I would like to go to confession before I answered ‘yes’ to that. After the meeting, we prayed the rosary and evening prayer.
On Sunday, we got up early to go to Mass with the Missionaries of Charity. I was so excited about this part of the trip. We were given different assignments. Some of us got to serve the food to the homeless, and others had to sweep or clean... Even though we had different jobs, all of our work was needed to fulfill the duty that was at hand…
The Missionaries of Charity that serve down there in Miami were very kind and cheerful. A few of them even knew Saint Teresa of Calcutta, which was awesome for us, because we realized that we were actually working with Sisters who had known and lived with a saint. It was also exciting knowing that we were actually serving the poor in the same way that Mother Teresa did. It made all of us very happy to have the opportunity to be able to do this. Sister Loretta, the superior of the community gave a talk about Mother Teresa and told us personal stories about the saint. It was very inspiring. As we were sitting there listening to the noises of the street, and seeing the tropical climate outside and listening to Sister Loretta talk, it almost seemed like we had been transported to another country… almost like we could be in India serving the poor. There was no noise of an air conditioner to distract us…or to comfort us either.
After we were done working we visited the Gesù, which is the oldest Church in Miami and is a replica of the Gesù Church in Rome… it was very beautiful.
When we got back to the house that we were staying at, we, the girls, were able to go swimming while lunch was being prepared. After lunch, we prayed the rosary and sang songs outside. That evening we went to la Ermita de Nuestra Senora de la Caridad. We went to Adoration there, but only for a short while. We left to go to a Church close by because Mass in the Ermita was about to start and we wouldn’t be able to have time to pray in silence because Mass would be going on. We went to the parish next door to see if the Adoration chapel was opened. It was locked, so we decided to play a game of soccer. While we were walking to find a field to play a game of soccer, a priest came walking towards us. He just so happened to be the parish priest of that parish and offered to open the Church for us! While we were praying in the Chapel, the door suddenly opened and as we were silently praying we heard someone say “ hellooo”. It was the Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino who came by. He told us stories about his youth as well as how he found his vocation to become a priest.
After the time of prayer, we went outside to have a game of soccer, which was a very memorable game!”
Hannah Farah shares her experience of the soccer game: “…it was one of the most fun and funniest games of soccer that I’ve played.”
The original plans for Monday morning were changed because of a big storm that came our way. Monday morning we got up very early to see the sunrise and pray the rosary by the water. Due to the weather, we prayed the rosary in the Church and after that, we stayed for Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Peter. After Mass, we went back to our temporary home to have breakfast and pack up the vans to began our journey back to Jacksonville.
Hannah shares more of her pilgrimage experience: “The whole trip was filled with blessings, surprises, laughter, smiles, mac-n-cheese, and a lot of love from everyone. I’m very glad I went because I realized many things, my faith grew and it was a wonderful experience because I’ve never experienced anything like it and I’m not the same person that I was before the trip. Thank you to the sisters, God, Mother Mary, and everything else that has helped me change! Thank you, Jesus.”
Sienna finishes sharing her personal experience of the pilgrimage: “It was so much fun. I know that if you think about doing missionary work, it might sound boring or hard. And it might be, but it is also very rewarding and fun. You actually get to be Christ’s hands and feet… and as Saint Teresa of Calcutta would say; you get to be, “a pencil in the Lord’s hand,” doing His work for Him. And besides all of that, you get to hang out with the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother who are just so much fun.”