In honor of the 20th Anniversary of Heart’s Home and to renew the consecration to Our Lady of Compassion, each Heart’s Home community around the world organized a pilgrimage to the nearest Marian shrine. As there are so few Marian shrines in the New York area, this anniversary also served as the inauguration of the Shrine of Our Lady of Compassion on the grounds of the ICCC, built by Heart’s Home with the support of the Archbishop of New York. Close to 120 people from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey made a pilgrimage to the site on September 18, hopefully the first of many who will journey to their Mother in search of comfort and love.
“The inauguration of the Shrine to Our Lady of Compassion at the ICCC was a beautiful event for my family. As we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the scenic beauty of the grounds; the mountains surrounding the open fields impart an immediate sense of peace and calm.
It was wonderful to see the mix of “pilgrims”: other families with young children, a wonderful variety of ages from the Brooklyn housing projects and beyond, a group of young seminarians from Fordham University, a former Heart’s Home volunteer taking a day off from her graduate studies at Yale, transplanted French families, many Spanish-speaking men and women. Somehow, we all belonged, because we had a common purpose: to participate in the inauguration of the shrine.
We began our pilgrimage across the property with a rosary; as we paused after each decade to reflect on the joyful mysteries, it struck me how much Mary’s early joys are entwined with her later suffering at the foot of the cross. The meditations brought me deeper into the mystery of how suffering and joy are interrelated and both redeemed by Christ.
Our pilgrimage ended at the shrine, a wooden structure housing a sculpture of Our Lady with her arms around her son, whose wounded, upturned hands and pierced feet bring the viewer to that painful but crucial pause between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, where we feel most bereft, but where Christ, in his compassion, is present to us in our emptiness.
The outdoor mass and lunch were followed by a talk on compassion, the charism that defines both Heart’s Home and the shrine itself: the willingness to remain in that place where suffering feels most absurd, and to know that this is precisely where Christ meets us. Thank you for this beautiful shrine to Our Lady, and for an inspiring day of pilgrimage!”