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Pilgrimage Update - June 2nd, 2021

Dear Pilgrims,

I hope this email finds you well in the midst of the ups and downs of the third wave and everything else that is going on these days. There are signs of encouragement with lower case numbers being reported daily and so many shots in arms. And so, with hope and trust we continue our pilgrimagethrough this pandemic…one day at a time.

The Way of Stella Maris planning team has been considering our options for this year’s pilgrimage given the myriad of unknowns concerning public health protocols as our province slowly begins to open up again. Despite the release of Nova Scotia’s 5 Phase reopening plan, it is still difficult to accurately predict what August will look like from a COVID-19 perspective. That being said, restrictions for travel within Nova Scotia are being lifted this week, and we appear to be on track to reach Phase 4 between mid July and early August. This seems to suggest that some reasonable indoor and outdoor gathering limits may be in place at the time of the pilgrimage.

Below is an overview of this year's pilgrimage plan to date:

When:

The pilgrimage will take place August 9th – 15th, 2021.

Online registration will open on June 15th and will remain open until July 15th (or whenever maximum capacity of pilgrims is reached). An email will be sent out prior to June 15th with more specific details about how to register. This information will also be posted on our website: www.thewayofstellamaris.com

The cost for each pilgrim this year will be $250. This will cover operational costs for the full program (including meals) and a Way of Stella Maris T-Shirt. At the time of registration payment may be made via the online portal, by e-transfer or by cheque.

*Please don't let the cost of registration be a barrier to your participation in this pilgrimage - if it is please email fr.rob.elford@gmail.com and we can help cover the registration fee.

Where:

The 110km route begins at Holy Cross Church, Middle Musquodoboit and ends at Saint Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, Halifax on the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary. It traverses the beauty and tranquility of the Musquodoboit Valley before picking up a series of trails along the stunning Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia: The Musquodoboit Trailway, Blueberry Run Trail, Atlantic View Trail, Salt Marsh Trail, High Flyer Trail and the Dartmouth Harbourwalk.

More details on the route can be found on the website www.thewayofstellamaris.com

What:

The program for the pilgrimage, in addition to your 15-20 kilometre walk each day, will include mass, meals, water stations along the route, basecamp hospitality and community sharing. More information on the daily schedule will follow.

At a minimum we expect to have access to washroom facilities and have our basecamp travel trailer set up at halls along the way each day. Ideally we hope that pilgrims will be able to stay overnight in the halls, but pitching a tent on the property is an option, as is returning home each evening.

At registration you will be asked to indicate whether you are interested in:

a) staying overnight in the halls (if available)

b) pitching a tent outside the halls

c) returning to your own home or accommodation each evening.

Our team will transport any bedding/camping gear to the next hall each day.

Pilgrims who are not staying overnight will be responsible for organizing their own transportation to the starting point each day and pickup at the end of the day. We encourage pilgrims to consider carpooling with others if public health guidelines permit.

Unfortunately, after significant research, we have concluded that reasonably priced bus transportation service is not available.

PLEASE NOTE: The pilgrimage team is unable to transport pilgrims unless it is to the hospital for an emergency.

Who:

Anyone who would like to be a part of this pilgrimage would be most welcome. Please share this information and the website www.thewayofstellamaris.com with your friends, family, community, and parishes.

The website has plenty of information on how to prepare for Pilgrimage and lots of photos from 2019 and 2020. Please spread the word.

As always, if you have any questions please email us at: info@thewayofstellamaris.com and a member of our planning team will be in touch.

In Summary:

We are going ahead with the pilgrimage, whether we can stay overnight in the halls or not. With daily mass, meals and time for community sharing and fellowship, it will be a great opportunity to put time aside for spiritual retreat. We remain hopeful that staying overnight in the halls will be possible, but it's clearly too early to be certain. So, we wait...and pray and deepen in the beauty and fragility of simply being human. I will send out another email on June 15th, the day registration opens.

In Christ,

Father Rob Elford


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