A Simple Pilgrimage – A family visit to the final resting place of a relatively unknown priest
Originally posted to Faith Restored on August 23, 2019
Usually, I’m a bit of a homebody. I don’t typically go too far from home and I feel safest in places that I am familiar with. However, there is a part of me that would love to do a little traveling and, every once in awhile, I get the “itch” to leave the familiar and experience something new and incredible. I’ve been out of the United States once in my life (on my husband’s and my honeymoon) and I have visited a few other states within the US, but what I really want to do is go on a pilgrimage to someplace outside of the country. Italy is on the top of my list! I have a burning desire to experience Italy’s rich history, culture and food and to visit places like the Vatican and the many shrines and holy places that lie throughout the beautiful country. There’s just something about Italy that draws me in.
Now, if you’re like me, traveling (especially with a family) on a big pilgrimage isn’t in the cards right now. However, should that time ever come, I will definitely be asking my friend Teresa Tomeo for help! She recently launched her newest endeavor, “T’s Italy.” Teresa is offering personal travel consultation services for those who wish to travel to Italy. If there’s anyone who could advise anyone on where to visit and when, where to stay, and help you find the best opportunities and deals, hands-down it’d be Teresa! You can find out more information at www.travelitalyexpert.com
When I was growing up, my family typically vacationed every summer but we would also take an occasional weekend getaway to a hotel about an hour away from home. My parents chose that particular location because it was close to the Sisters of the Precious Blood Monastery in Manchester, NH. We went away to relax and have fun but, at the same time, we had the opportunity to do a little something extra for Jesus by visiting the Monastery.
I have such fond memories of speaking to the nuns through the grate, listening to them chant, and being in the presence of Our Lord in Adoration. I remember feeling such peace there and being in awe of the life-size statue the scourged Jesus. The child in me was always a little scared at the sight of the crown of thorns, the wounds, and the blood but, after one sight of Jesus’ sad eyes, I wanted to run up to him, hug him, and make him feel better.
My parents looked on these little trips as pilgrimages of sorts. We couldn’t afford to go to Fatima, Lourdes, Italy, or any of the other really amazing places known for pilgrimages but we found more attainable ways to make special trips for Jesus to places that were more local to us.
With a husband, three children, homeschooling, writing my book, and a busy home life, traveling to Italy sadly just isn’t in the cards right now. However, we recently had the unexpected opportunity to make a little pilgrimage and it opened my heart in a unique way to God’s love, mercy, and grace.
A dear, lifelong friend of my family, Fr. William Carroll (now retired) brought to our attention a priest named Fr. Patrick Power. Fr. Power was an Irish immigrant who was a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston in the 1800s. Despite his frail health, he lived a life of holiness and he had a special love for children especially those who were handicapped or ill. Fr. Power died young at the age of 25 and was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden, MA. After his death, numerous cures of mind and body were reported. Thousands of people flocked to his gravesite and many left with their physical and/or spiritual and emotional health restored. There are numerous stories about healings, each one more amazing than the last. Fr. Power’s story is truly inspirational and it’s one that my husband and I had never heard until this past week.
Fr. Carroll had sent us a DVD about Fr Power about a year ago but, for whatever reason, we never got around to watching it. Well, this is a jubilee year, the 150th anniversary of his death and Fr. Carroll mentioned to me that he had been praying for Fr Power’s intercession over my family for the various issues we are facing. Alex and I remembered the DVD and finally watched it.
Wow. That’s really all we could say.
We both immediately said, “We’re going.” Malden is only about a 45 minute drive for us and so, the next day after dinner, we set out on our mini pilgrimage.
Fr. Power’s shrine, his gravesite, rests within a small gated area inside the cemetery. This is not his original burial site. Because of the masses of people visiting the grave, over time it became necessary to move the priest’s remains to a more secure spot where he wouldn’t be disturbed.
Fr. Carroll met us there to pray with us and offer us a special blessing. I experienced no miraculous physical cures (that I know of). However, what I did experience was a great sense of peace that I can’t quite describe – it was a feeling of reassurance of God’s grace and presence in my family.
Have you ever feel like you just want to throw your hands up in complete surrender and shout, “OK, God! I give up!”? That’s more or less been me off and on for the past couple months. 2019 has been a difficult year especially due to my health. I went to Fr Power’s’ grave with no expectations except to pray at the resting place of someone who did his best to follow Christ and do His will and who God is using (for whatever reason) for His work.
I left with a greater sense of understanding and appreciation for the fact that that God is using me for a purpose. He has a plan and a purpose for me, for my family, and for each one of us.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for years and I worry a lot mostly about things that haven’t happened yet or things that could happen. I live with a lot of fear. While worry is a normal human reaction, it can sometimes take over and make everyday life difficult. Personally, I become so focused on my fears and stuck in “survivor mode” that I forget to actually live. My main issue with anxiety is, not the anxiety itself, but the fact that I so often forget who to bring my worries to! Jesus!
Fr. Power knew who to bring his troubles to and, even after death, he continues to show us who to bring our needs and wants to. God is using this remarkable priest to spread the great news of His love, grace, goodness, and mercy. True joy and peace can only be found through our faith in God.
I left the cemetery with this prayer I’m my heart:
“Jesus, take care of me. I surrender myself to you.”
The thing is, I meant it! They weren’t just words. I could almost feel what my heart was saying in my very bones. I have to say, I’ve been more at peace over these past couple weeks than in quite awhile, even through some difficulties that have presented themselves.
Maybe I can’t go on a big pilgrimage to another country right now (perhaps I will never get the opportunity, although I hope I do!). However, our humble little pilgrimage to Fr. Power’s shrine showed me that God always finds a way to come to us in special ways, whether our destination be attainable only by plane or (in our case) a car. God sure can surprise us in unexpected ways!
The story of Fr. Power is an important one to share. Who knows? Maybe one day he will be declared a saint…and maybe I’ll have the privilege of taking that pilgrimage to Italy to witness his canonization!
For more information about Fr. Power or to purchase a DVD, please go to this link.