Yesterday was the annual pilgrimage day in Heiloo, where there is a special devotion to Our Lady in Distress. The Portuguese-speaking community of Amsterdam, i.e. Portuguese and Brazilians, have the custom of making this pilgrimage every year on the third Sunday of May. They rent a bus, because most Portuguese-speaking migrants do not have their own transport. Moreover, in the bus we are already put in the mood because we pray the rosary on the way. The community from Amsterdam takes with them a white Madonna of Our Lady of Fatima and a black Madonna of Our Lady of Aparecida de Norte for the procession, which departs from the mercy chapel.
After a prayer of devotion to Our Lady, the procession left through the beautiful green park in Heiloo, singing and praying the rosary, we reached the large church where a whole group of Dutch people had just finished their Eucharistic celebration and where a group of young people were preparing for the World Youth Days in Lisbon. They looked surprised when we entered the church in procession with two statues of the Virgin Mary. There we celebrated the Eucharist with Frs Ben den Boer, Jac Hetsen and a pastoral worker, Jan Eike, from The Hague as celebrants. It became an animated celebration with even a moment of adoration.
Afterwards, people gathered at the restaurant and on the lawn where the joint picnic took place. Everyone shared the food they brought. It was like a miraculous multiplication of loaves. Also, the Portuguese folk dance group called São Martinho gave a show of Portuguese folk dances dressed in their national costumes.
It was a wonderful day of praying together, eating together and dancing together, as we were invited to participate in the dances.
All in all, a special day for the migrants, where togetherness and “confraternização” were stimulated in a very Catholic context.
Jac Hetsen MHM
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