The Annual Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes is an important event for many people.
Alex Prior, the Pilgrimage Director, tells us about this year’s Pilgrimage, which was a particularly special journey for Jayne and Brian Lowson.
Parishioners of St Patrick and St Thomas More Parish, Sheffield, Jayne and Brian met in Lourdes thirty-three years ago. They have been regular pilgrims ever since. Their sons Matthew, James and Thomas have also been frequent pilgrims. This year Jayne and Brian celebrated thirty years of marriage.
The 2017 Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes took place from 2 to 7 July led by Bishop Ralph, with over four hundred and sixty pilgrims, including two hundred and fifteen with Hallam Youth travelling from all the High Schools in the Diocese. Two charter flights operated from Doncaster Sheffield Airport direct to Lourdes, together with five Youth coaches.
There were many highlights during the Pilgrimage – Mass at the Grotto with the Diocese of Derry, Anointing of the Sick and many inspiring homilies. We took part as a Diocese in the Torchlight Procession on Monday night and in the Blessed Sacrament Procession on Wednesday afternoon. Many pilgrims commented on the very powerful Holy Hour in St Joseph’s Chapel when Fr Lee Marshall led us in Adoration. Our young people follow the main pilgrimage programme but with some additional items, so on Tuesday afternoon all of Hallam Youth spent time together. Due to the temporary closure of the High Stations, at very short notice they improvised and created their own Stations of the Cross with some of the youth leaders, before a liturgy in the chapel up at the Youth Village.
In previous years, one important feature of the pilgrimage, particularly for the Youth, has been the opportunity to spend time at the Grotto late at night, when it is particularly quiet and peaceful. Due to the increased security measures in Lourdes, access to the Grotto is currently not permitted after midnight, but the Sanctuary generously granted our pilgrimage exclusive access after midnight on Tuesday night. For around two hundred and eighty pilgrims, including all Hallam Youth, this was the very much the highlight of the week, and the Vice Rector of the Sanctuary commented on the quiet and prayerful way that our pilgrimage used this opportunity.
From the feedback forms received from pilgrims it is clear that 2017 was a very special pilgrimage and everything ran very smoothly. One particular comment flowed through all the feedback received, and that was how wonderful the young people from our Diocese are! The care and friendship they provided to the eighty plus “Assisted pilgrims” using wheelchairs in Lourdes was exceptional, and everyone on the pilgrimage commented on how wonderful this was to experience. All of the Hallam Youth are a credit to their parents, their schools and to themselves. Thank you to all our youth helpers, and the leaders, school staff and Chaplains who travelled with them.
During the pilgrimage we each served one another – not just the sixty plus volunteer Helpers, Doctors and Nurses and two hundred and fifteen Youth Helpers helping our Assisted Pilgrims, but all pilgrims served one another in different ways, eg spending time talking in a café, or reflecting on what we’ve heard at a liturgy, or a simple word of encouragement or support. Thank you to everyone involved. If you haven’t experienced the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, please do consider travelling in 2018.
Dates for Your Diary
There will be a follow up event “Lourdes@Home”, for those who travelled with Hallam Youth, at St Bernard’s Catholic High School from 6pm, Friday, 15 September to 1pm Saturday, 16 September. Further details available by email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2017 Lourdes Reunion will take place at St Bernard’s Catholic High School, Herringthorpe Valley Road, Rotherham, S65 3BE at 7.30pm on Friday, 27 October. All welcome.
Our 2018 Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes will take place from Sunday, 1 July to Friday, 6 July. Booking forms will be available towards the end of the year. Enquiries: 01302 247910 or 07724 650066 or email@example.com.