The Marian Community of Reconciliation and the Christian Life Movement have brought a traditional Marian pilgrimage back to the streets of Manchester. Last Saturday’s event brought some 1,000 people to the predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Rusholme for a procession with Our Lady of Reconciliation. “It’s been fantastic,” reported one participant, Damian O’Reilly of Greater Manchester Police. “I remember the old days and it’s nice to get something going again and show that we’re proud of our faith.
“This is just going to get bigger and bigger. This year we’ve had 1,000 participants, but next year we’ll have 5,000.” Local school children, teachers, parishioners of different ethnicities and eight priests came together to pray the rosary and sing songs. Joseph Martin McDonagh, one of the volunteers who helped carry the platform, decided to go barefoot. “Today has been the most fulfilling day of my life,” he said. “I regret the way I used to live and I’m so happy I was allowed to do this.” “I wish I was still carrying her now,” said the 37-year-old. “I’ve always had a soft spot for Mary. My mother had problems when she was pregnant with me and promised Our Lady to entrust me to her if I was born safe.” Mary Patricia Fehily, 75, from Hale, is one of the many who remember-ed her childhood years. “I had tears in my eyes when they lifted Our Lady and it all began,” she said. “I was walking in the love of Jesus and Mary. Bagpipes were played during the walk and 12 drummers from India performed in traditional Kerala dress in the park. The superior of the Marian Community of Reconciliation, Andrea Velarde, said it surpassed all their expectations. “We realized that the best way to evangelize in this country is through Mary so that’s what has happened,” she said. “It was very moving to see people’s piety. The volunteers didn’t even want to stop carrying her to switch turns as they were supposed to.”