Pilgrim Virgin program enriches faith in homes

Has been active in archdiocese for almost 50 yrs.

By Dan Russo

Witness Editor

Witness Editor

CEDAR RAPIDS —Mary Jo Evers has always had a special connection to the mother of Jesus. She was not only named after the Virgin Mary, but also shares a birthday with her. On Sept. 8, the Catholic Church celebrates the Nativity of Mary. It just so happens that Evers will be hosting the Pilgrim Virgin that day, so there will be a celebration that’s doubly significant.

“I have the statue coming to my house that week, and I will be having a cake,” she said with a laugh.

Evers has been having the Pilgrim Virgin visit her residence periodically for over two decades and now serves as the scheduler for the program in the Cedar Rapids area. This private devotion to the Blessed Mother has been in the archdiocese for almost 50 years, with the program currently active in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Marion, Atkins and several other smaller communities.

“Through this, we’ve met a lot of Catholic families in other parishes and neighbors who are Catholic,” explains Evers. “People you don’t even know show up. People will stay and talk for a while. Having the statue in their home, (participants) almost feel like they’re on retreat for a week.”

The program has led to blessings and fellowship for thousands of households over the years. An honor guard picks up a statue depicting Our Lady of Fatima on Saturdays from one home and transports it to another. Upon arrival, the statue is placed in a prominent spot in the home, and the participants pray the rosary, the Litany of Mary and a list of intentions. Then, on Sunday evening and each night after that for one week, the hosting family invites others to their home to say the rosary. At the end of the period, volunteers pick up the statue and escort it to the next home.

‘Ad Jesum per Mariam’ (To Jesus through Mary)

In the Dubuque area this past Saturday, an honor guard carefully placed the Pilgrim Virgin on a table in the living room of Brian and Angie Link. Afterward, a candle was lit, a rosary placed around the neck of the statue, and flowers decorated its sides. Each member of the group led a decade of the rosary during the prayer service. Afterwards, people stayed to chat for a bit. The Links have been hosting the program for many years. It has added to their spiritual lives as a family.

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