Pilgrims Journey to Former Pennsylvania Coal Town to Offer Marian prayer

Pilgrims Journey to Former Pennsylvania Coal Town to Offer Marian prayer

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CENTRALIA, Pa. (CNS) — Only a few structures still stand in this nearly abandoned borough 62 miles northeast of Harrisburg. Even fewer are visible through the tree cover from the top of an adjacent mountain overlooking what was once a thriving community. The most notable and recognizable structure is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, with bright blue domes that rise out of the foliage on the side of the mountain. Though all but seven of the town’s residents relocated because of the continuing fire in the anthracite coal mine beneath its surface, the church continues to serve a successful and thriving parish. Nearly 400 people made the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Philadelphia’s pilgrimage to the little church Aug. 27 for the second annual “A Call to Prayer” on the eve of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God. The pilgrimage was the second since Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, the leader of more than 5 million Ukrainian Catholics around the globe, visited the church Nov. 10, 2015. He was accompanied by Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia, metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States, and Father Michael Hutsko, pastor of the parish. Archbishop Shevchuk felt a sense of true holiness at the church and expressed his desire for all people of faith to visit and share the same sanctity and serenity. Six months after the visit, he declared the church a holy pilgrimage site.