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Monastery Pilgrimage
by Luba Johnson

On March 13, 1999 the night sky covered St. Luke's parking lot as 23 parishioners and one parishioner from Sts. Peter and Paul gathered together to board a bus to the Holy Dormition Monastery located in Rives Junction, Michigan.

As we left St. Luke's around 6 AM we knew we had a long drive ahead of us. The four-hour drive was well used in catching up on sleep, fellowship, watching a video from the festivities of October 4, 1998 and choir rehearsal. Upon arriving at the Monastery we all entered the Chapel and were able to venerate the Cross and receive a blessing from the Priest. A Lenten lunch was served, which was prepared by the Sisters of the Monastery. We were able to join in fellowship with visitors from other churches. After lunch Fr. Roman Braga was introduced to us and gave a talk on Lent.

I found Fr. Roman to be a dynamic speaker, who held my attention to the very end, I wished he could have spoken more. In short, he was inspiring. His message to us was that as Orthodox Christians during Lent we put so much emphasis on what should be eaten instead of our spiritual needs. Fr. Roman told us a story about a parishioner who asked The late Archbishop John of Chicago "What shouldn't I eat?' Bishop John replied, "Don't eat each other".

After Fr. Roman spoke we heard from Mother Gabriella, the Abyss of the Monastery. She briefly explained how the Monastery was founded and the work of the Sisters of the Monastery. Mother Gabriella also spoke to us on the making of Prosphoro and the symbolism of the bread. We were also given a tour of the grounds and a visit to the Gift Shop.

As the day grew closer to departure all of us attended the Ninth Hour church services. We expressed our thanks to Mother Gabriella for her hospitality and set forth on our journey home.

The Monastery is truly a place where you can get away from all the busy work that is around us. On the grounds is an eight-room guesthouse for those who would like to spend the night. Mother Gabriella repeatedly invited us to come back and if possible to stay awhile. Everyone on this pilgrimage agreed that this should become an annual event. Hopefully, next year more parishioners will join in the pilgrimage.

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