Assumption Pilgrimage Reflection - Ohio

By Monica Kassab
On August 13-15 I joined the Maronite Servants for a road trip to the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon for the Annual Assumption Pilgrimage.  On this feast of our Blessed Mother, I felt the closeness of my Maronite family and gained a deeper understanding of the centrality of the family to our faith.
Each day we gathered in the richly decorated basilica for a Liturgy in a different rite.  Low, gonging bells and faster, clanging bells mingled in a beautiful announcement of the start of the Liturgy.  Then 20 Knights of Columbus, with their feathered hats, capes and swords, lined the aisle for the procession.  It was a grand tribute to our Queen!
After the Liturgy we carried candles in a procession behind a statue of Our Lady and sang hymns under the dusk sky.  At night, Father Gary led an engaging youth program that helped us to get to know Our Blessed Mother better.
Throughout the pilgrimage, I was happy to receive many blessings and hugs from our warmhearted bishops and priests, meet my Maronite brothers and sisters from all over the country, and enjoy the hospitality of the Antonine Sisters who live next door.  I also attended two thought-provoking talks by John Horvat II, “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother” and “Mary Calls Us to a Way-of-the-Cross Society.” 
The Maronite Servants set up a table in the dining hall to greet the pilgrims.  I had the chance to get to know the sisters better, and they taught me to say “abouna” and “seyedna,” my first two Arabic words!  On the last day of the pilgrimage we attended the Maronite Liturgy outdoors and saw a rainbow above the statue of Our Lady of Lebanon. 

It was a pleasure to be able to join the Maronite Servants on this pilgrimage and meet my Maronite family.
(Monica is discerning with our community.)

Monica Kassab is the first on the right.  We are with the
Christ the Bridegroom community from Burton Ohio.