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Pilgrimage in Madison to Walk in the Historic Footsteps of Fr. Sebastian Râle

August 3, 2019

In visiting the places he preached and ministered, those gathered at a special pilgrimage in Madison on Saturday, August 3, will have the opportunity to experience a walk in the historic footsteps of Fr. Sebastian Râle (also spelled Râsle). All are welcome to attend.

The group will meet at St. Sebastian Church, located on 161 Main Street in Madison, at 10 a.m., before walking through Old Point Mission to the memorial of Father Râle, located in St. Sebastian Cemetery on the spot where he was killed. The procession will include walking roughly a half of a mile. The pilgrimage will conclude around 1 p.m.

Originally from France, Râle joined the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1674 and, driven by the love of Christ, traveled to the Americas 15 years later.

“When he encountered this amazing, burning love from the heart of Jesus, it lit his own heart on fire,” said Joseph Moreshead, a seminarian of the Diocese of Portland who will lead the pilgrimage. “He had to make the love of Jesus Christ known to the farthest corners of the world. In Father Râle’s day, Madison, Maine, was the farthest imaginable corner of the world!”

Father Râle lived much of his life among the Abenaki people. He composed a catechism and a dictionary in the Abenaki language and is even credited with establishing Maine’s first school. He fiercely defended the rights of the Abenaki people and was killed by the British in 1724. Seven members of the tribe died trying to protect him.

“The prayers and reflection this year will focus on Jesus’ call to his priests to love their flock and lay down their lives for them,” said Moreshead. “Not only will this be an opportunity to reflect on the life of a local martyr, but it will also be an opportunity to pray for vocations and for priests in the state of Maine.”

Excerpts from letters written by or about Father Râle will be read along with Scripture passages.

“I think that realizing that it happened here and that these are people not so far removed from us, people can realize that this is our call as well,” said Moreshead, “to go set the world on fire with Christ’s love just like Father Râle did.”

For more information about the pilgrimage, contact Joseph Moreshead at joseph.moreshead@portlanddiocese.org or call Christ the King Parish at (207) 696-3203.