Over 300 pilgrims gather in Bullsbrook to honour Mary and St Pio to pray for the world.
By Anthony Barich
It is said that Padre Pio often told his fellow priests that the Blessed Mother accompanied him to the altar while he offers up the Holy Mass.
It was appropriate, then, the five busloads of over 300 Padre Pio devotees, including several from Geraldton who had started driving at 5.30am, arrived at the Shrine of the Virgin of the Revelation, Mother of the Church in Bullsbrook on April 25 to start an annual pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage that started in 2006 involves Stations of the Cross, Rosaries and Mass, and consists of St Pio devotees – mainly women – many of whom are part of the 300-odd people who attend the Day of Prayer involving a DVD on the saint’s life and teachings, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, Divine Mercy, silent adoration, Benediction and Mass.
The Day of Prayer rotates through parishes around the Archdiocese of Perth, and is popular especially in the Italian community but increasingly so among other ethnic groups like Filipinos and Vietnamese.
The pilgrimage is a powerhouse of prayer for these and others, travelling between various locations by bus, sharing the fraternity of a Catholic community from Midland, Bassendean, Cloverdale, Victoria Park, Leederville, Balcatta, Glendalough, Mirrabooka and Girawheen, among others.
The pilgrimage is led by the St Pio Prayer Group’s spiritual director, Fr Tiziano Bogoni, who has a strong Marian devotion himself and feels a connection with the saint’s Franciscan Capuchin charism. Bullsbrook is the site of a special shrine assiated with the SACRI Association, which has one of three statues of Mary as the Virgin of the Revelation specially blessed by the late Pope John Paul II. During the bus trip, the affable Fr Bogoni led one bus in the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, before arriving at Bullsbrook, where he led the over 300 pilgrims who packed out Our Lady’s Shrine Church in meditations on the Stations of the Cross.
The five buses progressed to St Anne’s Church on Great Northern Highway where Fr Bogoni concelebrated Mass with parish priest Fr Paul Fox and Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate who also have a great devotion to Mary.
Again, the small but quite new country church was so packed the Friars brought speakers so people spilling outside could participate in the Mass.
On to Gin Gin, with Rosary again led by Fr Bogoni along with some of the Italian women singing old devotional songs to Mary, and Fr Bogoni led a Eucharistic procession around St Catherine of Siena Church including the Rosary in Italian and English, with Franciscan Friar Gabriel incensing the Blessed Sacrament as Fr Bogoni held it.
Adoration, Divine Mercy and Benediction followed, with the Blessed Sacrament sitting on the altar at a Marian shrine adjacent to the quaint country church. It was an act of reverence, reminding all who participated about the reason why they are there – for communal fraternity, to deepen their own spirituality and to pray for themselves and for the whole world, as the Divine Mercy Chaplet says.
Fr Bogoni, who is chaplain at All Saints Chapel at Allendale Square in Perth city, described the pilgrimage as a spiritual shot in the arm, giving a message of hope as the pilgrims pray for their own intentions and for those of the whole world.
The message of hope drew on the charism of St Pio, who suffered much through the Stigmata and the mocking of others who thought him mad while he walked on this earth. But Fr Bogoni said St Pio – who told people while he was alive that he would do more for God’s people in heaven than he ever did on earth – proves that there is no circumstance that people cannot come out of through faith. “Those who went before us giving their lives for God – the saints – prove that,” he said.
“We eat and sleep every day to survive, yet we so often neglect this very basic thing – nourishing our souls.”
Pilgrims came out of the experience on a spiritual high, having meditated on the sufferings of Christ during the Stations of the Cross, and constantly asking for the intercession of St Pio, who himself suffered so much.
Pilgrims learn the redemptive value of their own sufferings by meditating and praying on such things.