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Martyr's ShrineThe Martyrs Shrine went on board this summer as they hosted the first Blessing of the Boats and Waterways at the Parkbridge Marinas. A major celebration in many parts of the world, the blessing of Fishermen and the fleet is an ancient tradition going back hundreds of years.  For the first time in Midland, Peter Bisson the Provincial of the Jesuits of English Canada and priests from Martyrs Shrine boarded a yacht at Marker M20 at Unimim Park on Saturday, June 8th at 1:00 p.m. and offered an invocation over the waters.   Frank Morneau, a summer resident of Thunder Beach, has kindly made his 65’ Linwood Huckins “La Belle Helene” available for this special occasion.

“The early Jesuits travelled from the coasts to the interior of Canada over the St. Lawrence River, the Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing until they reached Georgian Bay. It was a journey that took 30 days to complete,” said John Zurakowski, Assistant Director, Martyr’s Shrine. “Almost 400 years later the Martyr’s Shrine stands as a reminder of those early explorers.  By blessing the waters that surround the Shrine, we are paying homage to those early missionaries, and sanctifying the passage for our neighbours on the water.”

Following the blessing, attendees were  invited back to the Shrine for complimentary admittance and refreshments. In conjunction with the Blessing of the Boats and Waterways, Parkbridge Marinas and the Martyrs Shrine hosted their First Annual Commodores Dinner at Restaurant Sainte-Marie on Friday the 7th of June at 7:00 p.m. The fundraising dinner in support of the Martyrs Shrine Restoration Fund, the First Annual Commodores Dinner included a Four Course Gourmet Wine Pairing Dinner featuring renowned wines, venison and seafood.  Ken MacDonald, General Manager of Parkbridge Marinas is this years’ Commodore.  Joining Mr. MacDonald at the Head Table was Midland Mayor Gord McKay and Chairman of the Georgian Bay Land Trust, Mr. Peter Cooper.

The Martyr’s Shrine continues the proud Jesuit tradition of leadership and community outreach that began almost 400 years ago. The Martyr’s Shrine has served as a major economic driver in the region as a religious site and as a major tourist attraction, bringing over 100,000 visitors to the Midland region a year.

About Martyr’s Shrine
Built as a chapel and hostel in 1907 in honour of eight men martyred during the 17th century Jesuit missions in New France, Martyr’s Shrine is located in Midland, Ontario, in the heart of the Huron Confederacy of the 17th Century. The mission of Ste. Marie was built to blend both European and Aboriginal cultures, reflecting the cooperation between the First Nations and the Jesuit missionaries. On September 15, 1984, during the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, Blessed Pope John Paul II visited Martyr’s Shrine and venerated the Martyr’s relics. He spoke of the importance of these men, as well as early Wendat Christian converts, both in the history of Canada and in the life of the early church.

About the Jesuits
Often called “the Blackrobes” (because of their robes or cassocks), The Jesuits are an order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, who have worked in Canada for about 400 years. They have responsibility for the direction of schools, colleges, parishes, retreat houses and social justice ministries that span the country. Around the world, the English and French Canada Jesuit Provinces serve people in Haiti, India, Jamaica, Nepal, Rome, Tibet, Uganda, and Zambia. There are currently more than 300 Jesuits in the English and French Canada Provinces.