At the beginning of June the fourth walking pilgrimage for the disabled, their families and the public to the miracle icon of the Virgin Mary in Sambir (L’viv region) was organized by the Caritas Sambir-Drohobych Eparchy of the UGCC together with the Drohobych based disabled child protection group Nadiya (Hope).
The pilgrimage began with a Divine Liturgy at the chapel of the local Caritas. There were nearly 70 pilgrims including disabled children and young people, their parents and other family members, staff from Caritas and Nadiya, volunteers and clients of the Nazareth Rehabilitation Centre. Fr. Ihor Kozankevych wished everyone a fruitful and spiritually uplifting pilgrimage as well as patience and determination. After the blessing the pilgrims set off on their journey with songs and prayers.
Their first stop was at the Church of Archangel Michael in the village of Lishnya. There, the pilgrims were met by parishioners and Frs. Oleh Kekosh and Oleh Chupa. After a prayer service at the church the pilgrims indulged in snacks prepared by the parishioners and then continued on their journey with renewed strength.
During the pilgrimage pilgrims had the opportunity to confess, participate in joint prayers, gain spiritual enlightenment, listen to Fr. Ihor’s sermons and sing religious hymns.
Despite of the cold and rainy weather, everyone continued on the pilgrimage and worked at keeping each other’s spirits up. After a delicious lunch in the village of Bronytsya, which was prepared by the local parish, the pilgrims rested, sincerely thanked their hosts for the warm welcome they received and continued onward. Everyone the pilgrims met during their journey was impressed, that despite the exhausting journey and the bad weather, the pilgrims continued to praise the Blessed Virgin Mary with prayers and songs.
At night the pilgrims finally arrived at their destination—the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Sambir—and prayed before the miracle icon. They gave thanks for the energy, endurance and all the graces with which God has blessed them.
The pilgrims praise God together in their prayers, and draw public attention to the problems that disabled persons in Ukraine face with the hope that this exposure will make the public more tolerant of this segment of the population.