Ecumenical Pilgrimage to Stockholm
Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church, Richboro, PA
St. Vincent de Paul R.C. Church, Richboro, PA
16-23 April 1998
(Click on picture for full screen view.)
All photographs by Bob Rauchut.
Pilgrims who made the first St. Vincent de Paul Parish pilgrimage to
Paris, France, in February, 1997, almost immediately recommended
continued pilgrimages with the "living stones" theme:
with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone,
we in our parish are joined as "living stones"
(1 Peter 2:5) into a holy temple, the Church; our parish
is but a stone in the mosaic
which is the Universal Church.
Our Pastor, Father McLaughlin, developed this theme after seeing the "Consecration Stones" of St. Eugenia Church in Stockholm, Sweden. So he suggested Stockholm as the second pilgrimage destination, and since Sweden is a Lutheran country, he proposed that we invite our neighboring Lutheran Church to accompany us for an ecumenical pilgrimage. After our Parish Pastoral Council met, and Pastor Paul Sorcek met with the Council of Advent Lutheran Church, both parishes endorsed this pilgrimage.
Father McLaughlin had begun corresponding with Rene P. Thuringer, SJ, of St. Eugenia Church, in April, 1997. By June a Steering Committee had been formed to plan the Stockholm pilgrimage for April, 1998. Membership from St. Vincent's Parish included: Father McLaughlin, Barbara McKeaney and Dulce Mooney; and from Advent Lutheran Church: Pastor Sorcek and Paul and Julie Anderson. The Andersons had traveled in Sweden and Paul speaks Swedish.
The cost of the pilgrimage was collected in installments, beginning in July. Several meetings of the pilgrims were planned, both to report on travel arrangements and to provide opportunities for pilgrims' suggestions. Pilgrims from St. Vincent's Parish participated in a December Lucia Fest at Advent Lutheran. During March Paul Anderson offered introductory Swedish lessons to all the pilgrims. Both Pastor Sorcek and Father McLaughlin believe that the planning process brought their congregations closer together.
On Thursday, April 16, 65 pilgrims left Richboro for Newark International Airport by bus, and for Stockholm via SAS. Arriving at Arlanda airport Friday morning, April 17, their bus ride to the Birger Jarl Hotel included an orientation tour of the city including visits to the City Hall, where the Nobel Prize Awards Banquet is held, and the Storkyrkan, Church of Sweden Cathedral. Welcoming them at the hotel were Father Rune Thuringer, SJ, Pastor Erland Ros, Mrs. Josephine Larsson and Mrs. Lois Linstrom, all of whom offered assistance.
Friday at 4 P.M. Father Thuringer gave the pilgrims a tour of St. Eugenia Church, explaining the history of the consecration stones, and on Saturday morning he gave the group a walking tour of Gamla Stan (the old city).
Sunday at 11 A.M. they participated in a family service led by Pastor Ros and the newly-ordained Pastor Gaspar at St. Stefan's Church, a Church of St. Johannes Parish. At the end of the service Pastor Sorcek and Father McLaughlin brought greetings from our respective congregations. The service included a Resurrection pageant by their pre-school children, and afterward, at the fellowship gathering, St. Vincent's parishioners presented them with a banner sent by our Early Childhood Learning Program.
At 6 P.M. the pilgrims participated in the weekly Sunday Mass in English at St. Eugenia Church. Father Majoros and Father McLaughlin concelebrated with Father Francisco Herrera, SJ; Pastor Sorcek and Pastor Ros were seated in the sanctuary; a number of the jointed the choir for the Mass. Father Herrera welcomed the pilgrims, and also welcomed a family life team from the Philippines who were presenting a program in the parish. At a coffee and cake social afterwards the pilgrims met some of St. Eugenia's parishioners, who come from 85 nations, and they gave Father Thuringer the stone sent by our Early Childhood Learning Program as a memorial of our pilgrimage.
Monday morning took the group 42 miles northwest of Stockholm to Uppsala, an ancient religious center and a university town. At 11 A.M. in St. Lars Catholic Church they participated in an ecumenical service led by Father Klaus Dietz, SJ, Pastor Stanley Rydell, Church of Sweden, and Rev. Michael Nausner, Methodist. Following the service they spoke informally of the ecumenical climate in Sweden.
Before leaving the Uppsala area, a visit was made to the 13th century Cathedral and Gamla Uppsala with its 12th century parish church and Viking burial mounds dating from the 6th century. It was there, where the first Catholic Cathedral was founded and where Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass during his visit to Sweden, that Rose Marie Mitala found the stone which was brought back as a reminder of our union with the Church in Sweden.
Tuesday took the pilgrims 42 miles southwest of Stockholm to the village of Mariefred for a guided tour of the Gripsholm Castle and an excellent lunch at the Gripsholms Värdshus. The Lord blessed us with a sunny day, and all were grateful to Julie Anderson who recommended and planned that excursion.
No group activities were planned during the day Wednesday. That evening the entire group enjoyed a farewell dinner planned by Dulce Mooney; Father Thuringer joined them. They returned home Thursday.
|Pilgrims' Reflections while Flying Home|
I felt the Lutheran Service at St. Stefan's was the highlight of
my trip. It was truly beautiful and the hospitality
afforded me was wonderful.
Rose Marie Farrell
The Lutheran service was a special treat.
But I also enjoyed being part of the choir at St. Eugenia.
Father Thuringer was a delight.
I have just passed through a memorable experience. The many
days spent with this group will last for some time in the
garden of my memories.
The ecumenical experience with the various members of the churches
involved and the response of this group was outstanding.
The experience in Sweden with the inhabitants, the restaurant clientele
and hotel personnel made our stay very pleasant.
Joe and Kathleen Bentz
Our Pilgrimage to Sweden was a very rewarding and pleasurable
experience. The warmness of the Swedish clergy and people
plus the cameraderie of our fellow travelers made this a trip we
shall always remember.
Karin & Dick Ernest
We really enjoyed the trip to Stockholm, Uppsalla and Marifred.
As the odd protestant newly-weds from Addisville Reformed,
we enjoyed the friendship and comeraderie of several St. Vincent
couples. Wednesday nite dinner was great, thanks to Dulce.
We would like to be invited on future pilgrimages. We enjoy
visiting cathedrals and castles as well as quaint towns.
Our pilgrimage to Sweden was inspiring and informative. It was a
great way to get to know our fellow Christians, and be united
with them as we are called to do. My thanks to Father, Jeanne and Dulce
for all their hard work putting this trip together, and for letting
me join in being a part of it.
Excellent trip! Good percentage of time for planned activities and
free time. Stockholm was a good destination. Personalities of
the group seem to fit very well.
My suggestion for next year would be Ireland. A natural
for a large percentage of the group.
Spirituality, structural sights and symbolic sounds
surrounded our Stockholm trip.
Sharing services provided a communion with all our
Congregations; certain to be one of longevity.
Shapely stones that will be viewed by all: more
significantly our spirited loving stones to shape our world.
Most significant was the sense of community with fellow Catholics
of Sweden and those members of the Lutherans and Church of Sweden.
We are all
Our first trip to Europe! Found companionship and the tour
The best part of this pilgrimage was the people. The people from
both Advent Lutheran and St. Vincent de Paul Communities
shared a common purpose as living stones at the place where
the idea was learned. I obviously know a few more people
from my parish and community as a result of this experience.
The trip was great! Very enlightening. It also brought out names
to faces of fellow parishioners.
Romeo and Josephine Balisalisa
It was a fabulous trip and the people were very helpful
and wonderful in all ways.
Tim & Karen Hartman
For us, the genuine appreciation and hospitality of the Lutheran
and Catholic congregations was a moving and humbling experience.
My first pilgrimage, it was wonderful. I will always have fond
memories and new friends because of this trip.
I A.M. going to join the Choir!
I enjoyed the Pilgrimage immensely. Everything was done well. I have
I enjoyed the company on the trip to Sweden
and the opportunity to spend time with my mom and sisters.
Father George Majoros
I will always treasure the memories of my very first trip to Europe:
the Pilgrimage to Sweden. The people we met, the Liturgies
that were celebrated and the time we shared helped us to
discover God among us. When you're daydreaming of Sweden always
remember "open up your heart and let it go"!
Great trip. Wow!!!
Father McLaughlin's Mother
You have a wonderful group of parishioners who pray as well as they play.
God blessed you when He sent you to Richboro. "Mother" offered
many "thank you's" as I trudged up steps to visit the Churches on our
Ron & Liz Longabucco
Spring in Stockholm means gray skies brightened by the sunny smiling
faces of the Richboro pilgrims. The Easter play by the children
of St. Stefan's was a joyous beginning to a Sunday of prayer
together. As we visited churches ancient, modern, small and large,
the bonds of friendship and community were strengthened. The pilgrimage
experience is uplifting.
Norma & Rick Yabut
A trip with 1001 lifetime memories! Broke bread with the
Swedes, kibitzed with "kababayans" from the Philippines,
shared nursing techniques at the Karolinska Institute, danced at the
Hard Rock Cafe, relived history at the Vasa and Gripsholm Castle,
scraped my hands and knees at the Royal Palace, dined and supped,
and most of all, enjoyed everybody's company!! Million TACK!!!!
Barbara & Phil McKeaney
We touched each other with friendship and love but left Sweden a
richer country by the enthusiasm that was aroused between
Father Thuringer of St. Eugenia Catholic Church and Father Ros
of St. Stefan's Lutheran Church.
Thoughts while flying home from Stockholm: Ecumenism is alive and well.
One can imagine more easily how things might be in future generations
for all Christians. Ecumenism is a link both spiritually and
physically for people who would not otherwise be together.
The more things are different, the more they are alike.
People from two different beliefs when they come together in
friendship and faith, soon learn now much they are alike.
People visit others in a "foreign" country,
and very quickly learn that it is less "foreign-ness" and more familiarity.
The more we come to know how vast is the world we live in and the
people so different, the more the world shrinks and the people become as one.
||Praise God for the gorgeous scenery! Amen.|
|St. Eugenia's Consecration Stones|
Inspiration for Pilgrimages
This description of the significance of "Consecration Stones" in St. Eugenia Catholic Church in Stockholm, inspired Father McLaughlin to seek "stones" for St. Vincent de Paul Church: visible reminders of our union with other Christian communities throughout the world. Pilgrimages have enabled personal contact with these Churches; and this ecumenical pilgrimage brought the Advent Lutheran and St. Vincent de Paul communities closer together.
When a Catholic church is consecrated by a bishop, the building
is anointed with oil in 12 places. The church stands on the
foundation of the 12 apostles; in the church as God's people
on earth, the 12 ancestral tribes of the Bible live on; the church
building is a symbol of the heavenly Jerusalem.
These 12 places on the church's walls are normally marked with a Cross and on special feasts with lighted candles. In most of our medieval churches these consecration crosses are still visible.
In our church these places are further marked: with 12 stones collected from 12 different countries. They come from the countries from which the church in Sweden derives its origin or from which it has received strong impulses and also from which many parish members come. The stones come from Peru, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, France, England, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Israel and Germany (listed in the order in which they are placed in the church beginning in the baptismal chapel).
The consecration stones
Latin America is characterized by social injustice and political
oppression, but also by a church that makes stirring and real
contributions to those without consolation. Latin America bears
crucial impulses for the church of tomorrow within itself. During
the 1970's the parish of Saint Eugenia received many fellow-believers
from this continent. The stone from Lima in Peru represents
all of them. It comes from the shrine Sanctuario del Señor
de las Milagras (The Sanctuary of the Lord of Wonders) which
is under the care of the Carmelite Nuns. May the Lord complete
the wonders of His grace in our hearts and in our world.
Those who are in Christ are also a new creation. 2 Cor. 5:17
The stone will not only remind us of the many Catholics
from the Iberian Peninsula but even bring to mind another
part of our background. The stone comes from the castle Loyola
in Northern Spain, where Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit
Order, was born. After the Reformation many Jesuit fathers,
in spite of an official ban, practised pastoral work in Sweden.
Priests and brothers of the Jesuit Order have been active in
Saint Eugenia's Church since 1879.
Neither he who plants nor he who waters is of any special account, only God, who gives the growth. 1 Cor. 3:7
Maria Remete Our Lady of the Refuge is one of the Hungarian
Catholics' favourite shrines. It lies outside Budapest and reminds
us of the large stream of refugees that the year 1956 brought
from Hungary to Sweden. The stone represents even the many groups
and individuals from other parts of the world who were forced
to leave their homeland, received refuge in our land and found
a home base in our church. In this way the church community
grows and experiences its universality.
You form a building with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. Eph. 2:20
From Czestochowa, Poland's national shrine, comes this stone.
The cloister with its madonna picture once checked the Swedish
conquest. Relations between Poland and Sweden have varied over
the centuries. In our day we are experiencing the power of faith
in the lives of the Poles, above all since Pope John Paul II,
a Pole, heads the entire Church. Many Poles have come to Sweden
as refugees. They are helping to build up the Catholic Church
in our country, especially through the work of the numerous priests
He who believes in me, from within him rivers of living waters shall flow. John 7:38
The Church wants to serve as an intermediary between the message
of Christ and different cultures. In Africa it also wants to
help integrate the black and white people in the unity of Christ's
Church. Before reaching that goal, however, the Church of today
has been the scene of bloodshed and persecution. This stone
comes from Saint Paul's Mission, Muscami in Zimbabwe. Three
Jesuits and four Dominican sisters sacrificed their lives there
on 6 February 1977. Christ's sacrificial death continues through
the ages. But, so does His resurrection.
There is no Greek or Jew, slave or freeman. Rather, Christ is everything in all of you. Col. 3:11
In our days the whole world is shrinking, people of different
races and nations have come nearer to each other. Even the parish
of Saint Eugenia has received part of this development. From
the Lawigan River bed at Barrio Timganga Bacong, located on the
east side of the island of Negros inside the group of Philippine
Islands, comes this stone. It reminds us that even in some places
in the Far East, Catholic life is strong, traditionally rich,
and even stimulating for us.
We know that all creation groans and is in agony even until now. Romans 8:22
Pilgrims from our parish were able to take back with them a stone
from the revelation grotto in Lourdes. It brings to life the
faith of Lourdes for us but even represents the rich tradition
of French Catholicism that has inspired Catholic life in Sweden
from the Cistercians in the 12th century to the Dominicans in
the 20th century. "May this stone be a bond between our churches
that are founded on the one rock that is Christ", writes the
rector of the Shrine of Our Lady
of Lourdes upon the document that verifies the stone's authenticity.
God who is mighty has done great things for me. Luke 1:49
The stone from Bolton Priory in Yorkshire reminds us about the
many Christian missionaries that in the 11th century came from
England to Sweden. They laid the ground of Christianity in our
country through, among others, Saints Sigfrid, Eskil and David.
comes from the ruins of an Augustine cloister from the 12th century.
In the 1950's brothers and sisters from the English Province of
the Passionists resumed the tradition of enriching the life of
the Church in Sweden with an inheritance from the British Isles.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. Matt. 28:19
From Saint Francis's own century comes the brick stone that through
the Society of Saint Francis has been transported from Assisi
to our church. With it stands Saint Francis and his spiritual
inheritance before our eyes: love to God and to all of His creation,
simple, joyful closeness to the crucified Christ. The Italians
have for generations built the framework of Stockholm's
When we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Hebr. 12:1
The stone comes from Sady Velehrad in Moravia. There the remains
of a cloister and mission centre from the ninth century stand,
the time around Saints Cyril and Methodius, the great apostles
of the slaves. Their missionary works extended over many lands and peoples
and their way of working was open. The stone calls upon us also
to pray for our fellow-believers who are currently being subjected
to persecution because of their faith.
Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Matt. 5:11
This stone is from the temple area in Caesarea Maritima, "Cesarea
on the Sea". There Philip, the deacon, was active; Peter baptized
the heathen officer Cornelius, and Paul preached the word of
Christ before King Agrippa. In Cesarea the universal perspective
of the Church opened up for Christ's apostles as the Church grew
out of Judaism and became all-encompassing. With this stone
from the Holy Land, the New Testament and all of the first generations
of Christians come to life.
The word of God continued to spread, while at the same time the number of the disciples in Jerusalem enormously increased. Acts 6:7
This stone from the cathedral in Cologne reminds us of the co-operation
among the different members of the same Body of Christ. For
over a thousand years the Church's development in Sweden has
been connected with the Catholic life of Germany: from Saint
Ansgar's first missionary works at Birka, through the time of
the Reformation to the works of our present day's priests and
sisters. Without the extraordinary financial support from Catholics
in Germany, this church could not have been raised.
So too we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually members one of another. Rom. 12:5
St. Eugenia Catholic Parish