On Wednesday May 16th, a group of people met up at the Dublin airport to fly to Santander for a pilgrimage organized by Sr. Ruth Maria and Sr. Megan of the Roscommon community of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother. After our arrival to the Santander Airport we went swiftly on from there to the Sisters´ house in Barcenilla. There we got the tour of their Chapel, their Radio and TV studios, and an insight into the work they do there. They were wonderful hostesses and we all had supper with them. Fr. Francis, Fr. Pravin and I enjoyed the company of Fr. Felix, Fr. Jose Luis, and the community of Servant Brothers in Las Presillas, while the other members of the pilgrimage stayed in Barcenilla.
On the following morning the Sisters collected us and our whole group set out in minibuses to the Shrine of Covadonga in Asturias. We concelebrated Holy Mass there with the local clergy and spent the day admiring the Shrine and the beautiful scenery. On Friday we went to the Monastery of Santo Toribo de Liebana and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Saturday was billed as the big day! We went to Garabandal and found it to have retained its simplicity as a place of pilgrimage. It was lovely to follow in the footsteps of Conchita, Jacinta, Mari-Loli and Mari-Cruz and to learn that She who made herself known as the Immaculate Conception at Lourdes and Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima made herself known in Garabandal as Our Mother. We shared a meal in the village and then went up into the hills to the Pines to pray the Rosary and also to have Confessions there. After our return to the Sisters’ house in Barenilla we had a Vigil for Pentecost.
My overall impression of the Community of Servant Sisters was of youth and enthusiasm. I was particularly impressed by a video we saw of the work done to restore the building of the Brother´s house where we stayed. It was also inspiring to visit the Servant Sisters’ Mother House in Zurita one afternoon when some of the young sisters shared their stories and told us what attracted them to the Lord and to this way of life. It “brought me back” to my own younger days, when many of us regarded a vocation to priesthood or religious life as a noble calling. I was especially impressed by Sr. Karen and Sr. Blanca for their artistry in painting and stained glass windows in their chapels and convents. Their work was very impressive and very moving.
I found our pilgrimage to be a sign of hope, a reminder that Our Blessed Mother is always watching over us. I enjoyed the days there and found the Monastic community a haven of peace.
-Fr. Eamonn O´Connor
We were so excited when Sr. Ruth first mentioned the trip to Spain to visit the Home of the Mother and that we would be visiting Garabandal, as this was something we had longed to do for many years and it was just so special. It is impossible to sum it all up as everything from start to finish far exceeded our expectations. We were really struck by the joy, happiness, and love radiating from all the sisters, novices, and candidates and of course the beautiful meditations given by Fr. Rafael. We enjoyed all the day trips, visits to the different houses, meeting Fr. Felix, Sr. Karen's beautiful paintings in the churches, the chats on the bus, and just being with such a lovely group of people. Now we know the cause of your joy, thank you for sharing it with us. God bless you all.
-Irene & Anthony McGrath
Those blessed four days of pilgrimage helped me make an inward spiritual journey and feel the newness in me. My experience in this pilgrimage was for me something absolutely unexpected and unique, not only for the emotions that I experienced in the fascinating and mysterious holy places of our visit and stay, but also for a renewed spiritual awakening that I relished. It was indeed an unforgettable, inspiring and unique experience for me. I also thank the Lord for the chance to meet Fr. Felix whom I would be happy to meet again, God willing.
We had a wonderful pilgrimage with the Servant Sisters at the Home of the Mother in Spain. For us the highlight of our trip was the opportunity to go to Garabandal. We had heard a lot about it in the past but never thought we would have the opportunity to go there. It was truly a piece of Heaven. Another highlight for us were the meditations given by Fr. Rafael each morning during Adoration. We had a vigil on the eve of Pentecost which was also a very special and joyous occasion.They have a wonderful home there and it is truly a credit to the many talents of the Sisters. The hand of God and the Blessed Mother are indeed very evident in their lives.
-Tony & Mary
Singing, laughing, praying and getting time out to reset from the busyness of everyday life. Getting to spend time in adoration, Daily Mass, and visiting Garabandal was such a great experience. I can't wait to return. God bless!
This pilgrimage was a great experience for me and has greatly helped me in my prayer life. Covadonga was special for me. I also found great peace in Garabandal. I was very impressed by the way in which all of the Sisters lived their daily lives, and they are so joyful all the time. God Bless.
We went to visit the Mother House of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother. In my opinion this was my favorite stop. We all sat in a circle in the orchard while the sisters sang songs. It was interesting to hear the testimonies of the Sisters on why and how they were called to be a Servant Sister. Afterwards we were shown around the place including the place where the magazines are published. I admired their dedication because it looked very hard to put together. My sisters and my mom also enjoyed the pilgrimage. They said that if they got the chance they would come back. Not only did I see the beauty of Spain but this trip helped me become closer to Our Lady. ¡Viva España! ¡Viva el Hogar de la Madre! [Long Live Spain! Long Live the Home of the Mother!]
The encounters and pilgrimages with the Sisters are what keep me going. This pilgrimage taught me a lot of things but I really found that you have to put in something to get something, all the Sisters work so hard and they are so happy, each one has to do their part. A few of my favorite moments in the pilgrimage were when we were with all the Sisters and Candidates in Garabandal sitting under the pines praying the rosary and singing to Our Lady. One of my favorite things that stays the same for every pilgrimage and encounter is meal time and the time spent in the car, listening to the sisters speak about their own experiences.
I could never have imagined what we, as a family, would get out of our trip to Garabandal and the Home of the Mother. Firstly, if the Servant Sisters are the hands and heart of The Blessed Virgin, and their love is only a reflection of the love our Blessed Mother has for us, then are we in for a treat when, with God's Grace, we meet Her in person. Regarding the pilgrimage, besides the fact that the whole experience was a visual feast, it could not compare to the indwelling of love that accompanied it. Part of us has remained in Garabandal and in the Home of the Mother, and we have brought it all back to our own homes in our hearts. We were a close family to begin with, but the unity in God's Love that we have experienced is beyond words, and to attempt to explain it is to do it an injustice. Our eldest son Darragh could not travel with us, but he also has benefited from this trip, as with the Centurion in the Gospel "By Your command my servant will be healed"
-The Bailey Family