But in their eyes, I saw that flame of the old Faith which once was the soul of Europe and the light of the world. You can’t imagine the thrill of seeing it once again…even if only in the eyes of little children.
–Michael Matt in an article about Catholic Explorers in France
On a beautiful, sunny and warm Saturday afternoon, a group of FNE Explorers from the 1rst North Star group set out on a mini pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Rita in Philadelphia, PA. Accompanied by a few of their leaders, the timber wolves assisted at mass and then were treated to a tour of the shrine by our wonderful tour guide Ms. Madeline. The timber wolves all showed their deep interest and knowledge of their faith and took in the sights. Pictured above are some of the timber wolves with two nuns we met at the shrine who were kind enough to spend some time speaking with the children and have their picture taken with them.
There was one word that people kept saying in reference to the timber wolves that were there that day. Hope. We heard them talking at a distance, they came and told us. But the kids brought them hope. On this sunny summer Saturday, when they could be doing anything else, but chose to visit the shrine of a saint. That they wore their uniforms so proudly, and prayed with such fervor. They inspired the other pilgrims on this day.
We were blessed to have one benefactor, who was so touched by the children that she made a donation so the children could all receive a vial of Holy Oil from the shrine. Grace flowed in both directions and we could see that though Christendom may have no boundaries on a map, it exists.
The boys and girls were able to leave their prayer intentions at the shrine, and at then end, gave the first timber wolf howl in the city of Philadelphia! It was a mighty howl right in front of the shrine. The faith and example of children can be a mighty thing in itself, and there were a few people that spoke to us, that asked about us, and who just noticed the kids and were touched by their humble and innocent faith.
Among the statues and art at the shrine, and all the history the kids were able to learn about, they were also able to offer their prayer intentions in front of some relics of St. Rita, which included a first class relic in a reliquary, as well as a pillow donated by her shrine in Cascia on which she rested her hands in repose. We are truly blessed to have a shrine to this wonderful saint so close by.
After sharing this day of prayer and pilgrimage, all met up at Akela and Raksha’s home for a BBQ to celebrate our time together as we prepare for camp in July with our brothers in Canada, and to begin anew with new otters, timber wolves and explorers in September for our second year of faith and adventure!