Manitoba Custodian's Reflection

In Thanksgiving to Our Lady of the Cape Pilgrim Tour in Winnipeg May 2022

Our Lady of the Cape began her travel on April 19th and arrived April 21st in a home in the Southdale area, under the St Boniface Archdiocese. Mary chose Maria Grazia Verrelli to carry out her plans to visit Winnipeg. 

I, Maria Grazia, was aware that I was not worthy of this privilege, but I said yes anyway. She arrived at noon on April 21st, and it took some convincing for my boys to carry Mother Mary into the house. At first there was reluctance in welcoming Our Lady of the Cape in my family. After our home, she visited a few other homes, and everyone received her with great excitement.

On April 28th, she visited us at the Holy Cross Parish Board Room where we prayed in the cenacle with people from different parishes. We were particularly blessed with Our Lady’s visit to Holy Cross, since this year we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Parish! That morning many posters/flyers were distributed to inform people of all the plans with Mary. A group of beautiful faithful people came together at Holy Cross to plan for Mary’s visit. Many obstacles came our way, but we chose never to give up. We relied on Mary’s intercession continually. Before her touring, we began a novena of three rosaries at 6:30 am before 7:45 am mass. We do these novenas before each big Marian feast of the year. While preparing for the procession, we had to sign documents for the police permit. An attack almost made us cancel the procession. But Mary intervened multiple times and saved the plans. A voice went out that this tour was not coming to us through the proper channels. But again, despite all the difficulties, we never lost courage and strength to carry out the procession. The tour officially began on April 30th, on the vigil of the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. At Holy Cross, she visited a group of 8 children receiving their first Holy Communion.

To us, this was a sign that she is always guiding us to her son Jesus, and that the Holy Eucharist should always be at the center of our spiritual life. After the first communion, she traveled to St. Emile Parish and visited 2 communities of believers. Our brothers and sisters share the space of this beautiful church with an East Indian community that follow the Siro Malabar rite. On the evening of Monday May 2nd, I had the opportunity to spend some time there and I felt a great and palpable heavenly presence. People were coming and going with great admiration, respect, silence, and awe. 

Tuesday May 3rd and Wednesday 4th, Mary made her way to Bishop Velychovsky National Martyr’s Shrine, under the Ukranian archeparchy. I received great feedback from those who had the opportunity to participate in their devotions with Mary at the shrine. 

On May 5th and 6th, Our Lady travelled to St. Anthony of Padua in West Kildonan. This is the first and only church under the Winnipeg Diocese that received the statue of Our Lady of the Cape in her time in Winnipeg. 

I had the opportunity to pick up Our Lady from St. Anthony of Padua on May 5th to take it for 3 hours to Holy Cross parish for Mother Mary to visit the Holy Cross school children. The children had a wonderful time singing and praying to Mother Mary and kept our priest busy. This was a very joyful moment with our Blessed Mother. 

When I drove back to St. Anthony, people were waiting with anticipation for Mary. I was touched by how much love and silent prayer was present there. 

Mary was brought back to Holy Cross Parish on the late evening of May 6th and a group of youth helped us to decorate Mary for the final days in Winnipeg. 

On Saturday May 7th, we had the First Saturday devotions, before and after the 7:45 am mass. After mass, we had the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until 4:00 pm mass, with the pilgrim statue also present in the sanctuary. That Sunday, May 8th, after noon mass, we had a beautiful procession with people coming from all walks of life and parishes, even from 2-3 hours driving distance. A family of 13 children came to visit Mother Mary, after travelling 150 km, at 7:45 am mass, all in perfect attire to give honor to her. 

At 12:00 pm mass, a lady gave testimony of receiving healing from cancer from Our Lady of the Cape a few years back. 

Blessed petals and rosaries were distributed at each mass, and the Litany of Our Lady of the Cape and the Consecration to her were done as well. When it was time to begin the procession, the cross bearer was not in sight, so we had to decide quickly who should be the one. My eyes fell upon a great man of prayer, but he was slightly against the idea of carrying the cross. He reluctantly agreed (I was not aware that he was dealing with a knee problem). The whole way through the procession, he carried the crucifix, with great love and perseverance. Afterward, I heard that he confessed he felt like Simon the Cyrenian. 

Most of the way Mary was transported in a trailer, so she was a bit low, but it was good anyway because ahead, Jesus on the cross was held up high. She humbly stooped down to be with her children. 

In a clip of the procession, you only see the last portion of the walk, a few steps away from the church. At that point, she was elevated onto the shoulders of a few volunteers. We had 7 police cars including 3 undercover cars to be our guides for the procession. We all felt so blessed to have so much protection, but we felt that the police received special blessings from Mother Mary as well. The rosary, meditations, and hymns to Mary, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, were chosen carefully from Anita Bondoc. Our procession was 5.5 km. One man told me that he wanted to participate in the procession but could not walk. I invited him to come anyway, trusting that someone would volunteer to drive those who could not walk the full length of the journey. The man joined us and walked the whole way through, among the people at the front. He admitted to me that this was a miracle for him.

Different people came from far away to ask for miracles from Our Lady of the Cape. One of the main intentions of this procession was to pray for the intercession of Mary to end war in Ukraine, and throughout the world. 

There are too many other details and encounters that were attached to this visitation from Our Lady of the Cape to tell at this time, however, there are people to thank. For the efforts of Father Ani Xavier, for supporting us spiritually, and from the permission of his Grace, Archbishop Albert Legatt, we are grateful. Thank you to Anita Bondoc, Carla Gervais, John and Susanne Scatliff, Vanessa Gurr, Father Gerry Sembrano, Helen Shearman, Alcide Bouchard, Paul Gérardin, Monica Dueck, and to all others that helped in many ways. 

These experiences with Our Lady of the Cape have given us, as the faithful of Winnipeg, the opportunity to know and give honor to Mother Mary, as the Queen of Canada. 

On the bulletin at Holy Cross Parish, we have posted a link for the movie, Bridge of Roses, and the information on the enrollment in the confraternity.

Thank You, Mother Mary, For Visiting Us

We are praying for the continuation of the pilgrimage so that many faithful across Canada can receive an outpouring of grace.