Catholic pilgrims denied entry to Marian shrine


...Faced with the prospect of arresting over 650 people, many of them children, the sheriffs agreed to allow the pilgrimage to continue...

The main 12-mile leg of the SSPX's annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Starkenburg, MO took place on Saturday, October 22. The pilgrimage began 39 miles away on Thursday, October 20th, with over 200 young and old pilgrims, coming from as far away as Minnesota and North Carolina.

A further 350 pilgrims from the Midwest joined the first group early Saturday morning at Portland, MO to walk the remaining 12 miles to the shrine. At about 4pm, the group of 650 pilgrims arrived at the shrine’s paved entrance, but a shrine coordinator barred them from entering. Further down the highway, the parking lot entrance was strategically blocked by two pick-up trucks. Otherwise, the grounds remained accessible as the roadside frontage lacked a fence.

The coordinator refused entry to the pilgrims and announced the shrine was closed for a public event. Locals claim though the shrine is never found closed in this manner during the rest of the year, a claim also substantiated by pilgrims who periodically visit it. The event—the birthday party of a 90-year old lady—was being held indoors at the nearby Valentine Hall—a building on the premises but situated some distance from the chapel.

Some priests attempted to politely resolve the matter with the coordinator. They assured her that the pilgrims would not interfere with the event as the hall was sufficiently distant from the chapel. The group could also access it from the opposite side. The coordinator continued to refuse, stating Bishop Gaydos of the Jefferson City diocese had forbidden entrance to the group. This statement was later contradicted by the diocesan chancery office who claimed the decision was up to the privately-owned shrine’s trustees.

During the discussion, a group of about 50 young men and their chaplain became impatient and decided to enter the grounds bypassing the traffic barrier. A few minutes later, a couple of other small groups followed. Another group which remained behind the barrier offered their best wishes to the birthday lady by singing "Happy Birthday" to her.

Law enforcement officials were called to the scene and spoke with several of the priests. However, faced with the prospect of arresting over 650 people, many of them children, the sheriffs agreed to allow the pilgrims to enter the shrine’s grounds. The pilgrimage was then concluded with a Solemn Mass at the chapel’s outdoor altar.

more pilgrimage background info >

News contribution from USA District Office. Pictures courtesy of Cami Ostertag.

Voice your opinion to the diocese and/or shrine by sending an e-mail, making a phone call, or writing a letter to complain about the treatment of the pilgrims.

Please remember to keep your message charitable and respectful of the bishop's office and the shrine authorities.

Most Rev. John Gaydos
Bishop of Jefferson City, Missouri
PO Box 104900
Jefferson City, MO 65110
573-635-9127 tel
Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows
Rhineland Rectory
605 Bluff Street
Rhineland MO 65069
573-236-4334 tel


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