My reflection on being a pilgrimage site

My reflection on being a pilgrimage site for the Holy Year of Mercy deepened after Bishop Edward M. Rice blessed our community in December. The Archdiocese of St. Louis invited its six contemplative communities to each “open wide our doors” as a pilgrimage site during the Year of Mercy. It is a grace and gift to open our doors to pilgrims this Jubilee Year of Mercy. It calls us to deepen our welcoming and hospitality to receive with open hearts all those who want to come and pray with us.

The Most Reverend Bishop Edward M. Rice, Auxiliary Bishop for the St. Louis Archdiocese, called the Maria Droste Contemplative Community and asked if we would like for him to celebrate Mass with us during the Advent season. As Local Leader for the community, I said, “yes,” with eagerness and enthusiasm.

pilgrimage site
Bishop Edward M. Rice conducted Mass in the chapel of the Maria Droste Contemplative Community before blessing the community’s home and altar bread distribution center.

This was a great opportunity for us, as we had just ended the Year of Consecrated Life and had begun the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Our community decided to have Tridium from December 20 – 22 in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ. We ended the Tridium with Bishop Rice’s Eucharistic Mass and subsequent blessing of the convent. Our heart and soul sings “O, how lovely is your dwelling place”… living in the house of God.”

We share our personal reflection as a community on how the Mass, blessing of the convent and invitation to be a pilgrimage site has impacted us. The sacred encounter humbled us and made us more greatly realize God’s overflowing graces and gifts. It is a privilege to be of service to others this Jubilee Year of Mercy. The opportunity allows us to be more visible and known throughout the Diocese of St. Louis. Our presence is an affirmation of our missionary life. We live near Ferguson and in the midst of racial tension in St. Louis. May our lives be a living witness and healing of God’s mercy and reconciliation.

The Holy Year of Mercy began with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. At this time Pope Francis opened the sacred bronze door of St. Peter’s Basilica. This gesture marked the start of the Church’s “time of great pardon,” as expressed by Pope Francis in his homily to the masses.

The Jubilee Year is “dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us,” Pope Francis wrote in the papal bull of indiction announcing the Year of Mercy.

With every beat of my heart I give thanks to God for his mercy.

Pope Francis said, “At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.”

All of my life I have felt that God created in me a heart that is grateful. With every beat of my heart I give thanks to God for His mercy. Come and join us! May the door of our hearts be a door of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. We are open daily to welcome you all as we begin the New Year 2016.

On Being a Pilgrimage Site

pilgrimage sitePilgrimage sites during the Jubilee of Mercy provide opportunities for people to get closer to God. Pilgrimages include participating in Mass or another liturgical service such as morning or evening prayer, or acts of piety including the Stations of the Cross, praying the Rosary and Eucharistic adoration. Pilgrimages may also include spending time in prayerful meditation. Pilgrims are asked to conclude their visit with prayer for the Holy Father: the Our Father, the Apostles’ Creed or the Profession of Faith from Mass; and a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. A plenary indulgence may be gained daily by visiting designated pilgrimage sites.

Pope Francis asks of us throughout this Holy Year of Mercy to reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Corporal works of mercy include feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, giving drinks to the thirsty, healing the sick, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead.

Spiritual works of mercy are marked by counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses, bearing patiently those who do us ill, and praying for the living and the dead.

pilgrimage siteOnline resources for learning more about the Jubilee Year of Mercy are

To attend Mass or pray with the Sisters call 314-837-1719.

Elizabeth Garciano

Elizabeth Garciano

Sister Elizabeth Garciano was the Local Leader for the Maria Droste Contemplative Community in St. Louis, Missouri, before taking her sabbatical year as a pilgrim. She also served as Vocations Director for the Contemplative Good Shepherd Sisters in the Province of Mid-North America.