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lot of hail around Vancouver this Easter weekend.
Of course, a day off is a day off, so I go hiking anyway out in the sticks of Mission, B.C., with my umbrella.
The day stirs up some curiosity for me about religion. A trail from the Fraser Valley Heritage Park parking lot takes me up to the Westminster Abbey, where Benedictine monks still run the Seminary of Christ the King. Apparently, you can take high school or post-secondary studies there, they even offer a Bachelor in Theology. But only for boys. When I was a kid and living in Maple Ridge, just down the highway, I knew there were monks doing something up the hill behind Mission because they would come down to do their grocery shopping at my family's store. I remember being fascinated by their brown robes and unusual haircuts.
The trail also takes me past an old, empty school. This is the physical reminder of the original mission that the city of Mission is named after. It was first called St. Mary's Indian Residential School and was started in 1861. It hit me as I stepped out of the woods into the schoolyard that I don't know enough about what happened in those schools to even open my mouth, and that our government has only just begun apologizing (Stephen Harper, 2008.)
Local farmers could pick up mail there if they had it delivered to The Mission. But here's an interesting detail: it's not named after the Virgin Mary, but rather the Saint Mary of Egypt, who, according to the Fraser Valley Heritage Park website, was "saved from prostitution and did penance in the desert for 47 years."
The St. Mary's residential school was founded by a French Oblate priest named Father Leon Fouquet.
Hiking always gets me in a thinky mood. This time I don't reach any conclusions. I feel somber, humble and hailed on.