La Salette priest from Jefferson City to have Mass for Sept. 13 Starkenburg pilgrimage


Father Dennis Meyer, a member of the Missionaries of La Salette, who grew up in Jefferson City and is noting his 50th priestly anniversary this year, will offer the Mass and preach the homily at the Fall Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Starkenburg.

The event, modified this year to slow the spread of COVID-19, will be held on Sunday, Sept. 13.

The pilgrimage will begin later than usual: with Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament at noon.

Pilgrims then will carry a statue of “Seven Delores,” an image that has been at the Shrine since 1895, in a Rosary procession through the Shrine grounds, stopping at each of the outdoor Stations of the Cross.

The sacrament of reconciliation will be available.

There will be no midday meal this year.

The pilgrimage will conclude with Benediction at 1 p.m. and Mass at the outdoor altar at 2 p.m.

The black granite altar, adorned with a mosaic image of the Blessed Mother, came from the chapel of the former La Salette Seminary in Jefferson City.

Fr. Meyer attended Mass in that chapel many times while he was in priestly formation.

Annual pilgrimages to Starkenburg began 1891, in thanksgiving for the letup of six weeks of heavy rain that had been threatening crops and hampering the construction of a bell tower at nearby St. Martin Church.

Not only does the annual pilgrimage take place on the Sunday closest to the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (Sept. 15), Fr. Meyer noted that it is also close to the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette (Sept. 19).

On that day in 1846, the Blessed Mother made herself visible and spoke to two children on a mountain in France. That apparition eventually led to the founding of the Missionaries of La Salette.

The late Joseph Koenig, husband of Shirley Koenig, the recently deceased longtime lay director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows, attended many pilgrimages to the former La Salette Seminary in Jefferson City.

After the seminary closed, he helped arrange for the altar to be moved from the La Salette chapel to the steps of the Starkenburg Shrine, where it is used for outdoor Masses.

This year’s pilgrimage happens to be on what have been Mrs. Koenig’s birthday. Her Funeral Mass in July was celebrated outside, using the former La Salette altar.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows is located in Montgomery County, 2 miles north of the Katy Trail, on Highway P.

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