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Members of new Springdale parish walk 20 miles together

Pilgrimage to Our Lady of the Ozarks shrine in Winslow included rosary and Latin Mass

Published: October 22, 2021   
Maryanne Meyerriecks
Pilgrims from Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Springdale recite the rosary at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Ozarks in Winslow Oct. 10. The parishioners walked 20 miles over two days from Springdale to Winslow.

WINSLOW -- Mary Frances Sulzen and her large family have been making a pilgrimage for the past 25 years to the diocese's only shrine.

This year, she was joined by other parishioners from Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Springdale as they walked to Our Lady of the Ozarks Shrine in Winslow Oct. 8-9.

"We have been praying the rosary at the shrine followed by a family fest at our home for 25 years," Sulzen, pilgrimage organizer, said. "In 2020, we decided to add a 20-mile walking pilgrimage, beginning at our home in West Fork. We walked 11 miles on Friday and camped out at Brentwood Park (in Winslow), walking the final nine miles on Saturday morning."

After arriving at the shrine, pilgrims prayed a decade of the rosary and sang a hymn at each of five stations: St. Therese of Lisieux, the Virgin of the Smile, Christ Crucified (consoled by angels), Sacred Heart and St. Anthony. Father Joshua Passo, FSSP, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows, led the procession and celebrated Mass in Latin.

"The other pilgrims told us about the shrine's history along the way, and it was a neat experience being there with other members of our Catholic community."

"I like to look at a pilgrimage as being apostolic tradition, as something handed down to us from a long time ago, but still alive today," Father Passo said. "As a priest and especially pastor, I want to be leading my parishioners in this spiritual tradition of the Church.

"As the pastor of a new parish, a new spiritual family, I was so proud and pleased to see us together. It's times like this when I see God's faithful souls coming together with holy desires to please God and to give glory to him, with a spirit of joy and humility, which makes the sacrifice and struggles of the priesthood so rewarding."

Parishioner Pauline Sulzen, youngest daughter of Mary Frances, said, "We are praying today for our very young and relatively small parish."

Parishioners had attended Latin Masses at St. Joseph Church in Tontitown for many years until the group purchased and renovated a building to become its own church. The parish was established in November 2020 by Bishop Anthony B. Taylor with priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

Since that time, the parish has continued to grow. Katie and Bill Zeunges and their six children are new members of Our Lady of Sorrows Church.

"We moved here from San Diego, Calif., in November with six other families," Katie said. "We belonged to an FSSP parish, St. Anne's in San Diego. We all wanted a life that was a little less hectic, and we chose northwest Arkansas specifically because of Our Lady of Sorrows Church."

"We bought homes as far north as Bentonville and Bella Vista and as far south as Chester. We all homeschool our children but have not gotten together too often outside of church. In San Diego, we had a really big parish and homeschooling community. It's a lot quieter, but that's really a good thing."

About 50 people walked the entire pilgrimage, with more joining the group at Brentwood Park on Saturday morning. A few people met the group at Our Lady of the Ozarks, including several senior citizens, Virginia Poppe Sulzen and her four-week-old daughter.

"Father Passo walked the first leg of the pilgrimage with us," Pauline Sulzen said, "but he had to say Mass and hear confessions Saturday morning before rejoining us."

The Zeunges family said they enjoyed their first pilgrimage.

"We didn't have pilgrimages in California," Katie Zeunges said. "The other pilgrims told us about the shrine's history along the way, and it was a neat experience being there with other members of our Catholic community."

As her family enjoyed the potluck, treasure hunts, piñata and hayrides at the Family Fest at the Sulzen’s home in West Fork (Washington County), Katie Zeunges credited their parish for the seamless transition to a new home 1,500 miles away.

"The beautiful community of Our Lady of Sorrows welcomed us right away, and we have felt at home ever since," she said.

The shrine, a mission of Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Smith, hosted its 75th anniversary Mass and pilgrimage on the grounds Oct. 10.

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