The Pilgrim MTA Unites the Whole World
On September 18, 2023 in the deanery Phương Lâm of Vietnam, there was a celebration of the Apostolate of the Pilgrim MTA – it was a singularly wonderful day.
Five years ago I received permission from Bishop Joseph (meanwhile emeritus) to begin working with the Pilgrim MTA in his diocese. Since then much has happened. Especially during the time of Covid, I was not always present (at activities related to the Pilgrim MTA) but the Mother of God herself hurried over the “mountain” in my homeland, Vietnam. Currently, there are 1530 families in six parishes in the deanery (who receive the Pilgrim MTA).
The patronal feast of the Visitation
It is customary here for the various Pilgrim MTA groups to choose a patronal feast day. The first missionaries of the apostolate decided rather quickly that it should be May 31, the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since 2017, everyone who belongs to a Pilgrim MTA circle is invited to the celebration on this day.
However, this date did not work out this year and so it took place–at rather short notice–on Monday, September 18, 2023. A week before this, Bishop Joseph said that he would celebrate the Holy Mass on this day. Invitations were quickly printed and distributed; bags for 138 Pilgrim MTA circles were sewn, and all other necessary preparations were undertaken.
The parishes were prepared for the celebration in the days leading up to it. Members of the apostolate gave inspirational thoughts that applied Holy Scriptures to their everyday lives. The inspirations were about the wedding at Cana:
- What gifts, what thanks, do I bring from the past year for the feast day to the Blessed Mother?
- What requests of love do I bring?
- What water must Christ turn into wine?
The wonderful day of September 18, 2023
Actually, during the rainy season it is impossible to have such a great festivity in the afternoon, but the Mother of God worked a wonder: Although we had heavy rain the days before and the days after, we had no rain during our celebration, which concluded with supper outdoors. Very impressed, people still talk about September 18, 2023 as the day the Blessed Mother worked a wonder.
Over 1,000 people attended the celebration. In a procession, customary in Vietnam, the missionaries entered the church with the Pilgrim MTA shrines.
Bishop Joseph preached in a very interesting and appealing manner about the gospel, the encounter between the Blessed Virgin Mary and Elizabeth. At the end of Holy Mass the missionaries renewed their commitment to be responsible for a Pilgrim MTA circle for another year. The bishop expressed his wish that the Apostolate of the Pilgrim MTA would spread throughout the whole diocese–indeed, throughout all of Vietnam. May the Blessed Mother choose enthusiastic apostles for this endeavor. About 530 people registered for the supper which was served in the parish courtyard. Here, the people were bursting with joy.