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Portolá 250 – St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church

St. Maria Goretti Community Strengthens Bonds and Proves that Attitude Determines Altitude

From the moment I received a call from Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Sam Cole that his parish priest Father Sylvester was, safe to say, ‘highly motivated’ to have the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue visit St. Maria Goretti in Elk Grove, CA, we knew we had to block off adequate time to allow their staff to work on what arguably turned out to be one of the most vibrant events of the 38 Portolá 250 stops.

On a three-way call, Father Sylvester requested that we schedule an all-night visit and mentioned he wanted to keep Our Lady awake as long she is willing for his parishioners. We settled on a full schedule from 4:00 PM until Midnight and the Pilgrim Virgin Statue would remain throughout the night. With the spirit of Father Sylvester who is a few months new to the parish and throughout the planning process led by Sam Cole along with support from the parish staff, the attitude all along was first class! I was so inspired by Father Sylvester’s passion along with his insights and experience with Fatima, I asked if he would be so generous with his time as to drive over and lead the Rosary at our visit to the Capitol steps in Sacramento…and to everyone’s great joy, he obliged.

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Portolá 250 – Our Lady of Peace

Our Lady of Peace: She Waits!

As we drove to Our Lady of Peace in the city of Santa Clara, we were met with many Golden State Warrior fans and of course 49er fans as their stadium is located there. We were also met with one of the largest Marian shrines on the West Coast, a 32-foot tall steel statue that stands rather unexpectedly in Silicon Valley which I imagined is not usually thought of as a destination for pilgrimages. Well, time to think otherwise!

Welcoming visitors 24 hours a day, the outdoor shrine has beautiful grounds for veneration and relaxing. In 1983, the sculpture was commissioned by former Msgr. John L. Sweeney who was also the former pastor of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Santa Clara. With a special blessing by Pope St. John Paul II, Bishop Pierre DuMaine dedicated the statue along with the encompassing shrine.

We scouted the grounds upon arrival although I couldn’t imagine what would happen in the evening; stay tuned!

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Portolá 250 - Mission Dolores

Mission Visit #8: On the Streets of San Francisco

Founded June 26, 1776 by Father Francisco Palóu, Mission Dolores church is the oldest intact building in the city of San Francisco, and the only completely intact chapel remaining among the 21 missions. Granted basilica status in 1952 by Pope Pius XII, Mission Dolores still plays an important role in the cultural and civic life of San Francisco. It’s interesting to note Pope Pius XII also blessed the Pilgrim Virgin Statue.

Crossing the Bay Bridge from Oakland to San Francisco took more time than expected, but we made it to Mission Dolores just in the nick of time. We didn’t come with the rolling World Apostolate of Fatima billboard because the streets of San Francisco are just not built for it. As we made the trip, we were reminded of the beauty of the bay, with the cool ocean breeze and the rolling fog in the distance. I was really getting tired of the 90s heat wave that seemed to follow us wherever we have gone so far.

Once we set up with the Pilgrim Virgin Statue, Larry Maginot led the Rosary with a few followers who made the trip over to Mission Dolores to join us, bringing to mind our intentions to revitalize Christianity in California and to bring consolation to everyone’s life. It was a short stop, but one that had an impact on our guests who expressed much appreciation. Interesting to note, those passing by on the street came from every walk, run, and jog of life. 

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Portolá 250 – Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption

Cool Day in San Francisco

International Pilgrim Virgin Statue Custodian Larry Maginot put it best when he said, “I’ve been hot for two weeks and now I’m cold.” It’s true, the weather change was dramatic from just a few days earlier.

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption is the principal church of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the mother church of the faithful in Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties.

Designed by local architects collaborating with internationally renowned architects, the cathedral soars to 190 feet (57.9m) high and is crowned with a 55 foot golden cross. In 2017, Architecture Digest named this cathedral one of the 10 most beautiful churches in the United States.

On May 5, 1971, the cathedral was blessed and on October 5, 1996, was formally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the name of Saint Mary of the Assumption. Around the interior showcases several meditation scenes with Mary. Just three of these scenes are:

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Portolá 250 – St. Margaret Mary Church

In Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Latin Style

September 13th in this year of 2019 brought additional significance to the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima, as it was the 102nd anniversary of the fifth apparition of Fatima.

Along the route of the Portolá 250, we have experienced a wide variety of worship styles, from modern to traditional and everything in between. The highlight of tonight’s program at St. Margaret Mary in the heart of Oakland, CA was a true treasure of our Faith— hearing the Litany of Loreto in Latin. Hearing the names of Our Lady in Latin, in a beautiful church, filled with awe and reverence, made this night particularly special. Processing around the block in the middle of Oakland, California with Our Lady and an entourage of ladies veiling also was a sight to be seen and an experience to be remembered. 

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Portolá 250 – Mission San Luis Rey

Founded in June 13, 1798, Mission San Luis Rey is located in Oceanside, CA, just outside of San Diego.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia - The King of the Missions still reigns!

Named in honor of France’s King Louis IX, a Spanish ally, Mission San Luis Rey is nicknamed King of the Missions. Its beautiful church façade is a perfect example of late mission architecture. As we headed to the Mission’s expansive grounds, we did so without the rolling billboard, as it was waiting for a mechanic to fix it back in Carlsbad, CA. Although we had the GPS on our iPhones working well, we enjoyed being guided by one of the 585 mission bells located on the highway markers commemorating the “Historic El Camino Real” across the state.

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Portolá 250 - St Andrew Church & Old Pasadena

Breathtaking Parish and Thomas McKenna Joins the Portolá 250 in Old Town Pasadena…In Style! A Must Read…A Must See


St. Andrew

The visit to St. Andrew Church in Old Pasadena was, well, breathtaking. I was thankful to arrive early with my son Alex, who was traveling with me. This would be Alex’s last stop before I drove him home for school the next day and let’s just say he, along with myself, were over the moon with the experience. Founded in 1886, the oldest Catholic parish in Pasadena and one of the oldest in Los Angeles Country, St. Andrew was one of the most beautiful churches I’ve been in.

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Portolá 250 – Cardinal Burke’s Words of Support

His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke Calls All to Prayer just as the Pilgrimage to Visit 21 Missions in 21 Days Commences

Cardinal Raymond Burke giving homily on Portola 250 pilgrimage during Holy Mass for Operation Storm Heaven live from his private chapel, September 1st, 2019

The year 2019 marks the 250th anniversary of the Portolá Expedition which brought the Catholic Faith to California. A new trek termed the “Portolá 250” set out the eve of August 31st to bring Catholics together across California to commemorate this anniversary of the founding of the 21 California Missions with a modern-day road trip from August 31-September 22.

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Portolá 250 – Mission Stop #3

Home Sweet Home

Founded November 1, 1776 by St. Junípero Serra, Mission San Juan Capistrano is located in the present-day city of San Juan Capistrano, California in Orange County. The Mission was originally built as a self-sufficient community, where it became a center for agriculture, industry, education, and religion.

Nicknamed “the Jewel of the Missions”, Mission San Juan Capistrano was a bit of a homecoming for me as this is where I grew up. San Juan, while not my hometown now, was a place I fondly remember as a kid bike-riding into town and gazing at the ruins of the old Stone Church, the one destroyed by the earthquake of 1812. It is where they have the annual Swallows Day Parade to commemorate the swallows coming back to Capistrano each year on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th). The reason why I know that, is on this day each year, it just happens to also be my mother’s birthday.

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Portolá 250 – Titles of Our Lady

A Variety of Devotions to Our Lady to Mirror Diversity of Cultures

What struck me most as we walked into La Purisima Catholic Church in Orange, CA on Thursday, September 5th is the presence there of a great devotion to Our Lady under a variety of her titles.

As you may know, the Diocese of Orange County is extremely diverse in ethnicity, and it was beautiful to see this diversity reflected in the different scenes representing different titles of Our Lady set up in the church there. To add to the mix, we brought the Pilgrim Virgin statue of Fatima. It was amazing to see cultures and languages from all over the world coming together in one common Faith. No other institution other than the Catholic Church does that! In fact, the word ‘Catholic’ means ‘Universal’. But La Purisima does a special job of celebrating this diversity of cultures in their community.

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