Venice | An amazing day to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary took place when more than 100 people participated in the first-ever Diocese of Venice Walk to Our Lady: A Marian Pilgrimage to the May Crowning May 19 in Venice.
The prayer warriors trekked 6.6 miles from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center with the day culminating in a May Crowning ceremony. With Sheriff’s Office escort, the walkers gave a gave a powerful public witness and expression of devotion to Our Lady as they walked down streets praying and singing aloud with joy.
The walkers were from as far away as Naples and Bradenton, yet united in prayer. The rosary was recited as an International Rosary, meaning it was shared in multiple languages (Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish and English). The walk also included three priests.
“This was a good walk for my soul,” one of the older participants said. “We need to make a sacrifice in our devotions. The walk was invigorating and strengthened my love for the Blessed Virgin. I can’t wait to do this again.”
One youth from St. Martha Parish in Sarasota said he would do anything to honor Mary, because she is the one who connects us all to the Lord. “She is so wonderful. It is a privilege to be here.”
The route took walkers first under, then over, Interstate 75 as they made their way to the Retreat Center. Rest stations were set up and a those who were unable to make the whole distance on such a hot day could opt to cool off and rest in a passenger van which followed the group.
Organized by the Diocesan Offices of Communications and Evangelization, the walk was intended to pray for Pope Francis, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, the faithful of the Diocese of Venice, and for persecuted Christians everywhere. To this end, each walker was provided with a blue and white wristband which said: “Pray for Persecuted Christians.”
When everyone reached Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, the walkers took time to rest and reflect in the Chapel. There, Evangelization Director Joshua Mazrin led everyone in prayer.
Next, the participants processed around the retreat center driveway to a large white statue of Our Lady holding the Jesus. Oblate of the Virgin Mary Father Sean Morris, Retreat Center Director, led everyone in the May Crowning Ceremony.
The day concluded with hamburgers and hot dogs and a bus ride back to Our Lady of Lourdes. It was agreed that everyone was looking forward to the next time they can participate in another public display in honor of Our Lady.