A site dedicated to the trek to Marylake Monastery in May and October

Welcome

Here, you will find photos, text and videos having to do with the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Grace Monastery located in King City, Toronto, Canada. Photos are all credited to their respective photographers. For any and all questions, feel free to contact this website's admin at d.faria@live.com

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Marylake Walk – May 2018

This year’s May walk to Our Lady of Grace Monastery  will be on:

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Good news: Marylake now has an official website! The website offers plenty of information regarding services, events and provides information regarding the shrine itself. While the website does not specifically talk about the semi-yearly Marylake Walk, it does offer lots of other information which is helpful should you wish to know more about Our Lady of Grace monastery.

Should you have any questions about the walk, feel free to e-mail d.faria@live.com and I will do my best to answer. Take care and best of luck!

 

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Marylake Walk – October 2017

Hi all,

Today’s post will be short, sweet and to the point. This October 2017’s walk will be on:

Saturday, October 7, 2017

 

This information has been verified by St.Mathew’s Parish in Toronto, Ontario for accuracy.  Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at d.faria@live.com. Cheers and good luck!

 

Marylake Walk- May 2017

The May Marylake walk is generally the Saturday nearest to May 13th. This year’, May 13th falls on a Saturday and thus, the May 2017 walk will be on:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

I’ve written some posts about how to prepare for the walk and how to take care of yourself after the walk, but one thing I haven’t delved too much into is the walk itself and how it makes me (personally) feel. So I’ll take a few minutes of your time to really describe what going on this trek means to me.


Waking up before dawn is not fun. Putting Nivea on your face to prepare for windburn kind of sucks and bundling up when you’re barely awake isn’t my favourite way to start a weekend. Having said that, I willingly make the journey from Toronto to King City with my mother because I want to – and she does too.

I’m wide awake after the first couple of hours, which is generally when the sun begins to rise. Although I’m not entirely sure where I am when the sun begins its ascent, it is always a welcoming sight when the blackness slowly transforms into navy, the stars dimming and finally disappearing.

Half way in, my fingers are swollen. Conversation between my mother and I slowly decreases, as we want to keep our breathing as even as possible (believe it or not, brisk walking and talking equals being tired out alot faster….and no, we are not gym-swearing women so that may be half the reason- nevertheless!)

Three quarters into the walk (around Keele and Major Mackenzie) is where the trek really takes its tole. My back hurts, my thighs are on fire and my feet want nothing more than to be free of their infernal casings. Approximatley an hour after we cross Major Mackenzie until we reach the shrine is probably the worst hours of my self-doubt (as far as the walk goes, anyway). This is where I keep thinking “Why on earth do I keep doing this walk? I am in so much pain, I don’t think I can do this. I am absolutely insane to do this twice a year.”

At this point, my headphones are in my ears, my mom and I are side-by-side and we both no longer tell our legs to walk. They just….go.  We’re both in pain but still determined.

The walk from the welcoming gate to the shrine itself is also an experience in and of itself. The road is small, (two cars cannot comfortably pass beside one another without slowing down to 5 km/h) there are lots of people walking to the shrine, plus the road is twisty….and hilly. Your thighs will scream in protest when you climb that final high hill from the end of the road to the church, but the satisfaction of having made it is well worth it.

Finally, my favourite part: the church. Opening the doors, you’ll first be hit with the waft of slow-burning candles. The shrine is homely and inviting, warmed by both the candles and the sunlight spilling through the church’s blue stained glass windows. The entire church is quiet, but not silent: there are some people talking quietly in one corner, another few whispering. Generally, my mother and I purchase a candle or two, light it and place it next to the image of Mother Mary, say a prayer infront of her and sit in one of the chairs behind us.

There, we say a few more prayers and then sit in silent appreciation.  It’s the part I look forward to the most. The shrine is serene and beautiful. Full of life, yet quiet and respectful. Those who wish to pray can and those who wish to sit, rest and just be happy with themselves and what they have accomplished can and may do so at their leisure. There is no judgement on what you wear, what you look or what you do. It’s my favourite part whenever I am in any church as a matter of fact because it’s one of the few places I can be alone with my thoughts in an inviting environment. It may not be much to some, but it is beautiful and pure to me….

Perhaps that feeling is what I am after when I begin the walk. It is a tough walk and is ever more difficult if the elements are against you (too hot, too cold, rains, etc), but I know the reward is worth it. I know that at the end of that trek, there is happiness. At the end of that road, there is something true that will always be there: a reward that I am guaranteed to have if I just fight through these 8-10 hours for it. Maybe it is the absence of that certainty in life that makes me appreciate this walk as much as I do. Where life is wavering and intimidating with no assured prize at the end of the tunnel, this walk will always deliver. Even if I fight tooth and nail, scrounge every ounce of strength, give everything I am to give myself a good life… it is not a guarantee. I may fail- hell, I will probably fail. I have failed before and I’m sure I will fail again. It’s hard to put your gloves back on and fight another round against life’s obstacles when the hand you may be dealt at the end is a dud.

Walking to Marylake, there is pain. You suffer walking through the thick of rain, soaked with sweat from the inside and wet with the cold rain on the outside. But you know everything will be alright on the other side. Those eight, nine, even ten hours of struggling through with the wind against you and self-doubt in your mind is worth it… Just  for a few minutes of absolute, guaranteed serenity. Just to find those few moments where everything you fought for has yielded a reward, and you love this reward. This reward is valuable in my mind and was worth those hours of walking. It’s worth it – it’s still worth it to me.


As always, please e-mail me should you have any questions and safe travels!

MaryLake Walk – October 2016

Normally, the date for the October walk is determined by when October the 13th falls – usually the walk is the Saturday before the 13th, no matter when the 13th falls in the week. Thus, this October’s walk will be on:

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

This time around, I have a few tips as to what you should pack in your backpack for the trek. I’ve seen many types of bags being lugged around for the trek but the most popular that I have seen (and love to use) is a basic shoestring bag. It’s extremely lightweight, most are waterproof and you won’t carry much things, so the size is ideal.

1. Cash

There are a lot more independent bakeries, Tim Hortons and gas stations up Keele street which are easily accessible should you need a snack and/or need to use the washroom (which are mostly reserved for customers only, aka buy something small). While most accept debit/credit, always be on the safe side and carry some cash with you.

2. Water bottle

A small one. Believe it or not, I almost never finish an entire bottle of water by the time I reach the shrine simply because I do not want to stop to use the bathroom every 2-3 hours. This doesn’t mean I starve my body of liquids (I usually stop at a Tim Hortons twice en route), but buying something small and drinking it then and now is easier than lugging around a bunch of water bottles.

3. Small Snacks

A hard fruit that doesn’t get bruised (such as an apple) or a small granola bar is great for when you’re walking and there’s no place to stop for a quick bite. They’ll fuel you and won’t weigh too much.

4. Rain jacket

During the May 2016 walk, it drizzled 90 % of the time and these dollar store rain jackets were a lifesaver. You won’t want to hold onto an umbrella for hours, plus they come with hoodies and ensure you don’t get soaked! Truly invaluable (bonus: light!).

5. Bandages

You’ll more than likely develop some blisters on your walk so when you’re halfway there and you feel one grow, quickly take your shoe and sock off and bandage it up quickly. The more time your shoes are out of your socks, the faster they will swell up and they will hurt to walk.

6. Extra socks

Maybe two pairs if you expect rain! One to change into while on the trek and another comfier pair to change into when you get to the shrine. If you have someone to pick you up, have them bring a pair of comfy slippers so you can get into those fresh socks, slippers and head home comfortably.

7. Phone + music device

Whether its your iPod or some other mp3 player, its always a good idea to bring it with you, plus a pair of headphones. My mom and I do have conversations whilst walking to Marylake, but we find it beneficial to simply be in our own zone when we’re getting tired. More talking ends up to using more energy and catching our breath to talk for long periods, so to make it easier on ourselves we try to talk only when we have to. Music also helps take your mind off the walk!

That’s all for this time around! As always, stay safe and happy travels.

Diana Faria

Diana Faria

MaryLake Walk – May 2016

To answer a few questions I’ve been receiving via e-mail, the pilgrimage walk to Our Lady of Grace Monastery in King City, Ontario is always the Saturday following May 13th. This year, May 13th falls on a Friday, and as such, it is prediceted that this year’s  walk will be on:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

I’ve also been asked about the route to the MaryLake shrine. Throughout the years that I have walked with my mother, we’ve always taken the same route: up Keele Street. It is the most direct and safest route that is possible on foot.  Some pair up with their walking buddies, others join groups (such as the Dufferin Mall group which starts their walk early in the mornings, but not early enough for me, since I start around 3-4:00 AM), and others go at it alone. Whatever you do, be safe about it- if you’re walking alone, always be aware of your surroundings and have your cellphone near should you feel ill. Fortunately, you’re bound to find some people walking to the shrine while you’re on your trek.

The route I take:

This, of course, won’t work for everyone, but a good meeting point is Yore Road and Keele Street. From there, all you have to do is keep walking north until you hit the shrine.

Happy travels, everyone!

Marylake Walk – October 2015

Hello again!

This year’s October walk will be on Saturday, October 10th, 2015. Unfortunately I cannot make the walk (I’ll be having Lasik eye surgery the day before, hurray!), but I wish you the best of luck if you’re going to begin this wonderful journey.

There are many people who wish to participate in the walk but, for one reason or another, simply cannot make it. But don’t fret, there are plenty of ways to help out! Here are a few things you can do if you also cannot make the trek to the shrine:

  • Be a roadside helper. I’ve never personally done this, but one day I really want to. Along the way, you’ll more than likely see a vehicle here or there, stopped on the side of Keele Street, readily giving out food and drinks. Some cook/bake their food at home while others buy goods, but the desire to help one another on this courageous journey is always the same. I’ve mostly seen people give out baked goods such as slices of cake, muffins, cookies and doughnuts as well as water, juice, milk and coffee. But, of course, there are no set rules for this and you can give whatever you’d like! To make it a very grab-and-go experience, try giving out things that can easily be put in someone’s hand (soup, although yummy, is not a good idea!).
  • Be the driver. Coming back from the walk, all I want to do it prop my feet up and have no one bother me for a few minutes – this is impossible if I’m the one driving the car back home. Normally, if no one is available to pick me up after the walk, myself and another person will drive up to Marylake the day before, leave one vehicle there, and then drive back home so when we get there, we can drive ourselves home- but this isn’t ideal. Therefore, having someone available to drive down to the shrine and pick you up is a huge deal. If you can’t walk, being the one to pick people up is a huge help. It is also imperative that you have someone available to pick you up should you feel ill during the walk.
  • Volunteer at the church. Visit the shrine a week or a few days before the walk and ask if they need any help preparing for the pilgrims on this day. Chances are, they’ll need someone to help them prep the food or help those who are in pain after the walk. Whether its peeling potatoes for soup or soaking someone’s aching feet in an epsom salt bath, you’ll be helping out immensely. Plus, I’m sure you’ll see one or two people you recognize from the community (we Portuguese-Torontonians are a social bunch).

Aside from that, if someone you know is walking, make sure to give them words of encouragement – its a wonderful, but often tough journey.

Be safe and enjoy!

Taken by Diana Faria

Taken by Diana Faria

Marylake Walk 2015

Hello and welcome!

This year’s Marylake walk will be held on Saturday, May 16th, 2015. Normally, it would fall the weekend of Mother’s Day but due to another Saint’s celebration, it was pushed back one week.

I am unsure if I will be walking this year or not, but here are a few tips to help you get through the recovery phase, which normally takes 2-3 days for me. It may be more or less time, as it all depends on the individual. Remember that these are my own tips and not a doctor’s so use your own judgement!

Once you reach the shrine:

  • Sit down. Try not to sit for too long at the shrine, as standing back up on your feet is alot harder once you’re down. Of course you’ll be tired, so taking a few minutes on and off a chair is recommended.
  • Go downstairs if you feel sick/ are in pain. Normally, the shrine has a few volunteers in the basement to help those who have blisters or have to get their feet/ankles looked at. Bandages, wraps and other medical supplies are used as needed.
  • Change into a more comfortable pair of shoes. I’ll admit, the comfiest pair of shoes/slippers I use after my walk are the ugliest: Crocs. They’re wide, have holes for circulation and are light. I only use them for this purpose – I swear!

When you’re back home:

  • Soak your feet. I normally soak my feet in warm to hot water with either vinegar, epsom salts or a combination of both as soon as I come home. Vinegar is an effective way to relieve aches, pains and calluses. The smell of vinegar usually vanishes after a few minutes of use, but scented epsom salts also do the trick if you can’t stand the smell.
  • Prop your feet up. Take it easy. You’ve walked a long way and your feet, ankles, calves and thighs need some much-needed TLC. Read a book, watch some TV or have a nap! I don’t recommend working on the same day you walk, as you’ll probably be pretty tired and sore. If you can, take the next day off too for some much-needed recovery time.

All in all, do what your body is asking you to do. If you’re tired, relax! If you feel that there are alot of blisters or painful areas, don’t hesitate to see your doctor- it is better to be safe than sorry.

Happy travels!