On Wednesday, June 12, Residents, Sisters, and volunteers piled into buses. Our destination was the Cure of Ars church in Merrick, NY, one of the special pilgrimages planned to mark this Year of Faith.
The Residents looked forward to the pilgrimage. The church, in itself, is a magnificent structure, but the interior is just as magnificent. At once, one felt the peace of the presence of the Lord. The inside of the church had many statues of saints and side chapels dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Peace and St John Vianney.
After greeting us at the front door of the main chapel, Fr. Charles Mangano spoke to us about the life and spirituality of St John Vianney after whom the church is named. The Bishop of Ars visited the church several years earlier to celebrate its eightieth anniversary, and a gift brought with him the incorrupt heart and relic of the saint. (The relic remains the focal point of the chapel). Fr. Charles then brought out a picture of St. John Vianney’s heart for everyone to see and touch.
Once he concluded his introduction, we prepared for Eucharistic Adoration. We recited the rosary together, sang hymns, and spent time in quiet meditation. Before the closing Adoration, Fr. Charles brought the monstrance to each individual and gave everyone a special blessing with it.
We left the church to enter the Garden of Mercy, a well-manicured garden filled with fragrant roses in full bloom. In the two back corners of the garden stood life-sized statues of Padre Pio and Mother Teresa. Shiny silver balls connected by chains wrapped around the interior of the garden forming a rosary. The large beads and chains ended at the crucifixion scene in the center of the garden.
The visit to the garden concluded our pilgrimage, and after a memorable and faith-filled afternoon, we boarded the buses for home. One last treat awaited us! As we pulled into the parking lot the neighborhood ice truck came to bring Mr. Softy treats to the pilgrims and even those who remained at home!