Katie I. – Former Heart’s Home Volunteer
"At the end of the Rosary, I stood just below the shrine to hand out a prayer card to each pilgrim who approached, so I was able to see their faces during this intimate moment. As I watched each of our friends come up to offer a white rose for our Blessed Mother, the moment was so full of her presence! One woman in particular touched my heart in a way that is hard to describe. It was as though enfolded in the petals of her rose laid every one of her longings, secrets, fears, sufferings, desires, hopes, and prayers. She offered her whole self in this one moment. I could see in her eyes that she knew that this was too much to hold; she knew that her sufferings were too deep, her hopes too high, her prayers too little; she knew that she was so loved and so unworthy all at the same time; but she knew in this moment, too, that her Blessed Mother of Compassion, this beloved Lady of Sorrows, only wanted to hold all of her sorrows, take up in her arms all of her fears, crosses, and hopes, just as she held her beloved Son at the foot of the cross. This, truly, is our mission!
Guilhem M. – A Friend from Manhattan
"What struck me as the most beautiful moment of the day was when Cheryl sang Schubert’s Ave Maria right to the side of Our Lady of Compassion’s chapel. Seated atop a small hill in this beautiful scenery of the ICCC and underneath the bluest of skies, all of Heart’s Home friends listened in the greatest silence, before thanking her warmly for sharing her gift. I was touched to be a witness to such a marvelous performance that was visibly inspired by the surroundings but also by the general mood of prayer and friendship that connected us all through Heart’s Home.
Later on after the pilgrimage, each was invited to deposit a white rose by our Lady’s feet. These were all identical yet as everyone kneeled, walked or was helped towards the chapel each flower was transformed to embody a very special and unique prayer of thanks, grace, mourning or sorrow. This moment struck me as being exactly to the image of Heart’s Home: a community of individuals, enriched by its diversity of origin, way of life, commitment and personal history, brought together in friendship to grow their faith.
Rachel O. – Saint Maximilian Kolbe Fraternity Member "For me, each year’s Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Compassion casts new light on some aspect of the charism of Heart’s Home. I had been used to thinking of Mary at the foot of the cross as the model of Heart’s Home’s charism, but the homily during the mass that opened the day of pilgrimage gave me a new insight: as sharers in this charism: we not only look toward Mary as model, but also to Jesus as he looks at Mary. Between those two positions, that of Jesus on the cross looking at Mary and that of Mary at the foot of the cross looking at Jesus, we shift perpetually. I was reminded that what makes each of these positions bearable, on the human level, is that neither Jesus nor Mary was alone: they accompanied one another to the end and there is human consolation, even in that. Having been at a parent’s deathbed, I recognize how much love and comfort the simple presence of another can bring, both to the sufferer and to the one who watches. Somehow this insight helps me to see the suffering Christ in a less depressing, and more fruitful way. To be on pilgrimage with Heart’s Home is to taste this redemptive fruit: from all backgrounds we prayed, sang, ate, recited the rosary, laughed, and talked together. The beautiful concert and dancing were another shared gift: thank you for the opportunity to share in this day.
James S. – a Jesuit Seminarian from Fordham University
"Thank you for inviting us to the Pilgrimage. We found it refreshing for the soul to honor Our Lady in so good a way. Please know that we pray for your community and a flourishing of the springtime of compassion."
Cheryl M.– Saint Maximilian Kolbe Fraternity Member
"The day of our pilgrimage to the Blessed Mother was miraculous, meaningful and oh, so memorable. Standing in front of her shrine preparing to sing Schubert’s “Ave Maria” during mass, I felt her presence entering me from behind. My heart burst open and I felt my voice soar and fill the space in front of me. I looked out across the field, over the trees and into the mountains of the Catskills and envisioned the Holy Grace of Mary outpouring onto the earth below. Honored to sing again in the afternoon program, Our Blessed Mother’s presence continued to be felt by all. I experienced wave after wave of goose bumps and understood the lyrics of my songs; “No one is alone” and “Somewhere” at new, much deeper level. As I have performed these same songs this week, I am taken back again and again to last Sunday and the grace from our pilgrimage is still most tangibly present.
Amanda S. – A Young Artist Friend from Brooklyn
"The pilgrimage to Our Lady of Compassion was a real experience of faith and love for me. At the shrine, I felt the weight of the burdens that each pilgrim brought to our Mother. I felt deeply Mary’s presence at the shrine, in the dance, and dwelling in every person who came on this journey."
Maguelonne K.– A Friend from Manhattan
"This day was a real source of beauty: the hills with their wonderful view over the Hudson valley, the beautiful wooden houses built by Heart’s Home members and young volunteers, the magnificent works of art in the house, and the graceful talents of the two volunteers Renee and Marian. Our son, Theophile, was dazzled by their smooth and harmonious movements! They were a touching testimony of the beauty of our Lord’s creation.
The friendship of the Heart’s Home members is very dear to us; and each one of them is always full of loving attention towards us, especially towards our children. Also the friendship among all the families and friends that we meet regularly, thanks to Heart’s Home, is touching: all of them are radiant and welcoming, far beyond all differences of backgrounds.
This day of retreat at the ICCC is a kind of homecoming for us: it enables us to rest, away from our spinning urban life, and to become aware of the things that really matter for us as this year begins.
Carmen H.– A Friend from Brooklyn
"My visit to the ICCC for the pilgrimage was relaxed and so serene and peaceful. My husband and I truly felt such a holy presence of goodness. Feeling the compassion of our Holy Mother and seeing the shrine was just beyond words or what we could ever imagine. The Mass was just so beautiful. We loved it all. I truly felt the love and grace on this pilgrimage. We loved it so much and hope to visit again soon."
Alvin – A Friend from Brooklyn
"It was beautiful. I was struck by the peace and quiet."
John H. – A Friend from Brooklyn
""You all remind me of the Virgin Mary: it is her tenderness in your smiles, her love that I see radiating from your faces. What a beautiful charism!