Susan Zachman had extra joy when she arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. the morning of Oct. 2.
She almost didn’t make the trip from her farm near Albertville.
“I kept pondering it and pondering it and didn’t commit until this week [a few days before the trip],” said Zachman, a member of St. Albert who owns and operates a dairy farm with her husband Dale. “I called and [the staff person at the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life] said all of the buses were full.”
Thinking she had missed her chance, Zachman decided to call back to be placed on a waiting list. That’s when the surprising news came.
“When I called, she said, ‘We had some cancellations at our Edina location,’” Zachman said. “I said, ‘Thank you, Lord, you opened the door. Now, we can go.’”
The “we” in this case was Zachman and her daughter Chelsea. Being the only daughter among eight children, Susan thought it would be good for the two females in the household to get away for a day together.
The two were among 290 people from 75 parishes across the archdiocese filling six buses that made the three-hour trek to the shrine, where Bishop Lee Piché delivered a keynote address, plus celebrated Mass in the shrine church.
He encouraged participants to use the pilgrimage as a kickoff to the Year of Faith, which begins Oct. 11 and lasts until November 2013. Those who made the trip enjoyed a beautiful fall day, plus splotches of fall color lighting up the grounds, not to mention time for prayer, reflection and time in the outdoors.
“I like going on retreats and I have not been on a pilgrimage before,” said Ann Wanchena of Our Lady of Grace in Edina. “I really wanted just a dedicated time away for prayer and contemplation.”