It was only a couple of years ago that the group of former students of Mariannhill in Palencia began a new journey. After many years of our school days, with little contact between us, we eventually resumed contact and actually met in Palencia, in the same building of the Mariannhill seminary-school we went to as young boys.
A year later we returned to meet again in Ciudad Rodrigo (Salamanca), a region where a good number of former students come from.
Many former students of Mariannhill come from the mountainous provinces of León and Palencia. Due to this fact, the sanctuary of Our Lady of La Velilla [León] was chosen to be the venue for the third meeting of the group.
The robust church, which is kept in good condition, is opened to the people every year from May to October. During these months the different villages and communities of the area organize pilgrimages to the shrine.
By noon of September 26th, on a bright dawning-autumn day, forty former students gathered at this sanctuary. In the meadow in front of the church we enjoyed some heartily friendly chatting. We reminisced on the old days and updated each other on our current lives. This exchange warmed the relations between former students.
We then celebrated the Eucharist together. The presider highlighted the inherent human quest for joy which is like an unquenched thirst. In our efforts to quench this thirst, we plant in our lives and seek what we believe will bring us joy. Paradoxically often we reap sadness, boredom and tedium. Is it a chimera to try to live a life filled with joy? The Presider offered us three possible paths that could help us recover and taste joy once again. The first one is enjoying simplicity of life and embracing the many small human joys that God provides us. To receive and accept with gratitude the simple moments of joy God grants us. The second path is to be solidarity with those who find no reasons and motivation for joy. Some fail to not recognize moments of joy and others due to circumstances in their lives are overwhelmed by pain and suffering etc. The third way is coming back to God and at the same time abandoning evil and sin.
In the same celebration we also remembered and prayed for all deceased Mariannhill missionaries, students and teachers who were at the Mariannhill seminary-school in Palencia.
After visiting the beautiful chapel of the Virgin Mary, behind the main altar, we went to a nearby restaurant, where we enjoyed a sumptuous lunch, which was followed by a long and serene sharing.
This new meeting of the former students of Mariannhill in Palencia serves to strengthen the bonds of friendship between individuals and also with Mariannhill and its missionary work.
Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto CMM