Magnificat pilgrimage comes to Boston Oct. 11-12

BRAINTREE -- The Magnificat Pilgrimage of Hope reinforces a divine message that urges American Catholics to hold great expectations, according to pilgrimage director Father Daniel Barron, OMV.

The conference, the second in the history of the Magnificat publication in the United States, will be held Oct. 11-12 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The Magnificat is a monthly Catholic prayer booklet and worship aid.

Months before the release of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Saved by Hope” and the announcement of the theme of his pastoral visit to the United States “Christ Our Hope,” Magnificat pilgrimage organizers titled the upcoming conference “Pilgrimage of Hope,” Father Barron said.

“It really seems that the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church in Boston and to the Church in the United States, ‘Have hope. Be not afraid. Christ has come to save us,’” he added.

Father Romanus Cessario, OP, senior editor of the Magnificat and faculty member at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, said the pilgrimage will encourage attendees to “take new hope and see that the Church first belongs to Christ.”

He added that the two-day conference is a gift to Boston in honor of its bicentennial. This gift was inspired by the publication’s strong ties to the archdiocese. The first editorial meeting for the Magnificat in the United States was held at St. John’s Seminary.

“The Bethlehem of Magnificat in the United States is Boston,” he said.

Magnificat, which was first published in France, came to the United States 10 years ago. In honor of the publication’s roots, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France will join the Pilgrimage of Hope for the closing Mass. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley will celebrate the Mass. Both cardinals are successors of Jean-Louis Lefevre de Cheverus, the first bishop of Boston and a Frenchman who later became the Archbishop of Bordeaux.

Although the Pilgrimage of Hope is meant to bring together Magnificat’s family of publishers and subscribers, anyone who appreciates “liturgy, prayer, spirituality and good taste” is encouraged to attend, said Father Cessario.

“The Pilgrimage of Hope is meant to rekindle a vision and sacramental experience of what Christ brings to the world through his Church,” he said.

Like the first Magnificat conference, held in New York in 2002, the Pilgrimage of Hope will be “Magnificat live,” he added.

All the parts of the publication will be lived out during the conference. Participants will pray the morning and evening prayers from the publication along with the more than 200,000 subscribers throughout the country. The daily Mass readings are included in the publication, and Mass will be celebrated each day.

The prayers and readings that people normally pray alone or with their individual families will be prayed together with people from around the country, said Father Barron, who is also the editor of the Sunday Mass guide for children, MagnifiKid! and the seminary rector at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in Boston.

There will also be an adoration chapel, and confession will be offered at the conference with experienced spiritual directors from throughout the United States.

“We want people to go to confession and we want people to receive the holy Eucharist in a powerful way,” he said.

The main keynote address, “Magnificat and the Prayer Life of the Christian Couple” presented by Michele Schumacher, will be held Oct. 11.

Later that day there will be two opportunities for participants to attend 16 breakout sessions on different topics about the faith, prayer and the saints. Father Cessario will speak on “Hope does not disappoint” and the Magnificat’s editor-in-chief, Father Peter John Cameron, OP will talk about Lectio Divina with Magnificat meditations.

That evening there will be a concert of sacred music performed by Boston’s Seraphim Singers. The concert will trace the evolution of the Magnificat, Mary’s canticle of praise and thanksgiving, with reflections on its phrases and a slideshow of Christian art.

“It’s going to be a real experience of beauty, saturating all the senses, drawing us into the prayer of Mary herself -- a fundamental prayer of Christians and the inspiration for the very name of Magnificat the publication,” said Father Barron.

The following day there will be a talk about the 150th anniversary of Lourdes with Archbishop Robert Le Gall, OSB from Toulouse, France and the second keynote address with Father Cameron, which will look at the writings of St. Paul.

There will also be a family-style brunch with Pierre-Marie Dumont, creator of Magnificat, and the whole Magnificat team.

The final event is the closing Mass, held at 2 p.m., which is free and open to all. Anyone who wishes to attend can arrive at the Convention Center as early as 1:30 p.m.

For more information about the Pilgrimage of Hope, call 914-402-1840 or visit the Web site at

Plenary indulgence available

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has announced that the plenary, or full, indulgence for the Pauline Year granted by Pope Benedict XVI may be obtained by those who attend the closing Mass of the Magnificat Pilgrimage of Hope on Sunday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. In addition to attending the Mass, the ordinary conditions set forth by the Church for obtaining an indulgence must also be fulfilled: confession, reception of the Eucharist and prayer for the intentions of the pope.