When we think of Catholic Pilgrimages, we often think of traveling to Rome, the Holy Land, or Fatima. Some of the faithful at St. Gaspar del Bufalo Parish in Rome City decided, thanks to the suggestion of their Pastor, Father Louis Fowoyo, to make pilgrimages right here in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Along with Father Fowoyo, a group of about 20 parishioners did just that by visiting the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Diocesan Museum in Fort Wayne on Wednesday, June 7, to discover some of the rich history of Catholics in the area.
Pilgrims began their morning by taking a tour of the Cathedral, led by docent, or guide, Patty Didier, a parishioner at the Cathedral for nearly 50 years. Didier shared with the group important facts and history of the grand building. She talked about the original structure on the land, St. Augustine Church, the great lengths Father Julian Benoit went to in raising money to build the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (including trips to New Orleans and his homeland of France where he raised about $46,000), and the close connection Father Benoit had to the Miami tribe of Native Americans. Didier continued the tour by pointing out the beautiful details of the church, such as the one-of-a-kind stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the Blessed Mother’s life, the mission crucifix, the oldest object in the church which once belonged in St. Augustine, and the Immaculate Conception statue located on the facade of the Cathedral made from zinc and weighing two tons. The pilgrims followed Didier around the parish, admiring the beautiful statues, unique stations of the cross, and ornately carved reredos, taking in the history of each object. They then visited the sacristy and the crypt. Here they said a prayer, thanking God for the holy men buried there, including Father Benoit and former bishops of the diocese.
After their tour of the Cathedral, the pilgrims went next door to the Diocesan Museum where Director Kathy Imler welcomed the group and shared the history of the unique museum, carefully curated through the years by Father Philip Widman. Imler led the pilgrims on a tour, sharing the rich history of the many objects located within the museum, some of which include the crosiers and mitres of former bishops, historic statues, relics, and even a bowl dating back to the time of Abraham. The group, many of whom had never been to the museum, took in the details and beauty of every object. After their tour, the pilgrims returned to the Cathedral to pray the rosary and attend Mass.
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