Fr. Dan Belanger blesses the new rosary garden at St. George Church.

After a year devoted to works of mercy, praying the rosary and reflecting on Mary’s role in their lives, parishioners at St. George Parish in Bourbonnais will conclude their “Year of Mary” on Saturday — the feast of

the Assumption — with the rosary, an outdoor Mass and the playing of the movie, “Song of Bernadette.”

“The whole year is coordinated to reflect our devotion to Mary,” Associate Susan Surprenant said at the outset, “and how her life continues to speak to us.”

A candlelight procession wove through the church grounds during the opening dedication of the year in September, 2019.

Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV, Pastor, created the year as a way to focus on the positive and devote themselves to Mary, in a world filled with growing conflict and tensions. Little could he or his parishioners have predicted how uncertain and frightening the year would turn out, amid the global pandemic.

“Even though we have dealt with the COVID virus, we have had Our Mother Mary to offer a calm vision and reassuring word for us to grow closer to her son,” says Associate Paula Wasser. “We have turned to Our Blessed Mother for her protection, implored her help and sought her intercession.”

The year of devotion followed the parish’s renewed commitment to Mary, with the 2018 installation of an image of her — the Our Lady of Grace statue — and the creation of a rosary garden in her honor. Parishioners will gather around this image of Mary — which holds a special place for Viatorians — on Saturday as they pray the rosary and ask for her intercession.

The Our Lady of Grace statue, installed in 2018 at St. George Parish.

Even the movie about St. Bernadette and her experience with Mary at Lourdes, holds significance with Viatorians. Her vision took place in 1858 in France, where, some 20 years earlier Fr. Louis Querbes received papal permission to form the Clerics of St. Viator. He died in 1859, but the image of the grotto in a cave, where Bernadette experienced her vision, was replicated at the first Viatorian parish in this country, at nearby Maternity BVM Parish in Bourbonnais.

Despite Saturday’s closing ceremony, parishioners at St. George say they will continue to look to Mary for her help and intercession.