An annual pilgrimage to Penola, in honour of St Mary of the Cross, is an important part of the First Year formation programme at Corpus Christi College.

Every year, the first year seminarians travel from Fitzroy to Hamilton to Portland to Penola. (Fitzroy is St Mary’s birthplace; Hamilton is where Mary’s father Alexander is buried; Portland is where Mary lived and taught for several years; and Penola is where she discerned her religious vocation and co-founded the Sisters of St Joseph.)

It’s a long road trip, which takes several days. The seminarians arrived in June this year, in the dead of Hamilton’s cold winter. After the seminarians visited and prayed at Alexander MacKillop’s grave, the parish organised a hot meal for the pilgrims, and they were billeted at the homes of Hamilton parishioners.

The parish has long had a dedicated prayer group for vocations, which also includes in its intentions Corpus Christi’s seminarians. It’s a joy to receive the First Year seminarians, whose enthusiasm and prayerfulness is always encouraging. The pilgrims leave an impression on their hosts which is not forgotten.