Station Church Pilgrimage Concludes

Australian Seminarian Offers His Reflections

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By Ann Schneible

ROME, APRIL 3, 2012 ( Early this morning, faithful pilgrims gathered together in the church of Santa Prisca all’Aventino for the penultimate station Mass, bringing a daily pilgrimage that began Ash Wednesday to an end. 

The tradition of visiting the station churches throughout Lent has its roots in the early Church when the bishop of Rome would pay pastoral visits to the various parishes throughout the city. This tradition is continued each year in Rome by priests and seminarians of the North American College, who wake up in the early hours to walk to one of the station churches and celebrate Mass in English.

Trenton Van Reesch, a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia, who is in his first year of theology at the PNAC, spoke to ZENIT about his experience participating in the station church pilgrimage

By visiting these station churches, pilgrims enter into the history of the Church in following those who came before them. «Just being in the places where people have prayed and been a witness to Christ for so many years,» Van Reesch explained, «and to actually be a part of that, and to experience that is absolutely extraordinary. It’s going back to our brothers and sisters in faith and being part of that.»

«What’s been most striking is that we’re walking in the feet of the Apostles, being in the very city where the blood of the martyrs really penetrates the ground.»

The history, prayer, and sacrifice which are part of the pilgrimage make it a suitable Lenten preparation leading up to Holy Week and Easter. «This Lent has been extraordinary for the very fact that it’s my first Lent experience in Rome. It’s been quite different to all the rest, being in the same city where Sts. Peter and Paul really gave that ultimate witness, that ultimate sacrifice.»

Participating in the station Masses has «been an extraordinary privilege,» Van Reesch concludes.  «How much I’ve grown in my faith and prayer… It’s really captured a sense of my vocation to give my whole self to Christ.»

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