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Pilgrimage Around the Province

by Henriette Kelker

Adam Mickiewicz characterized the Polish people as a Pilgrim People. Today identification with the "sacrificial journey for the sake of Truth, Freedom, and Nation" is still strong in the Polish diaspora. Parish life and the celebration of feast days unifies immigrants of different generations and background, and enables expression of the Polish self-understanding. During community gatherings the web of familiar social interaction is strengthened and values are asserted despite the ambiguity of Canadian daily life. During the past year no opportunity was lost to celebrate the pilgrim journey of the Polish immigrants.

The Polish parishes in Alberta have a long tradition of pilgrimage and procession. In Skaro the building of the Grotto in 1918 created a location for pilgrimage. In the Peace River region, however, the Polish community, under the guidance of Fr. Joachim Michalowski, OMI, made in 1939 its first annual trek over dirt trails, to Girouxville, where they joined the pilgrims of this French community. Throughout the province celebrations of Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Trinity Sunday and All Saints day have provided opportunities to celebrate the pilgrim journey. These celebrations remain an integral part of the living tradition and cultural memory of Polish-Canadians in Alberta.

Reprinted with the permission from Henriette Kelker and the Canadian Polish Congress Alberta Branch from Kongres Polonii Kanadyjskiej - Canadian Polish Congress Alberta Branch, Vol. 7 No. 62  (September 12, 1995): 14.
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