The 2016 Lourdes Pilgrimage 28th May - 4th June
The 5th Annual Massabielle Pilgrimage to Lourdes – May 2016
Archbishop Oscar Romero said ‘Evangelisation is not merely our task, entrusted to us by a now retired and exhausted Saviour. It continues to be his task and as followers we sometimes help. This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that will one day grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold a future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.
This enables us to do something and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.’
In response to the request for feedback about the Pilgrimage we are sending this piece that was written for publication in the local newspaper prior to our Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
The Keighley Massabielle group set out for Lourdes on Friday 22nd May. Fifty nine people gathered to travel by coach to Manchester. They will take a two hour flight to Toulouse and then transfer by coach to Lourdes
Lourdes is a place of Pilgrimage in the South of France which welcomes thousands of people from all over the world each year. It was here in 1858 that that Catholics believe that Our Lady appeared to the peasant girl Bernadette.
Among those traveling by air will be Elderly and Assisted Pilgrims who will stay in the Accueil (Hospital) and travelling with them will be a doctor, nurses and carers. The support staff will undertake to do duties in the hospital caring for those who travel with The Society of Our Lady of Lourdes, an organisation based in London that have been taking sick pilgrims to Lourdes for over 100 years.
As a pilot this year a further 20 young parents and their children will travel overland. This experiment will hopefully be successful and help to reduce the age profile of those supporting the sick in Lourdes thereby helping to secure the future for subsequent pilgrimages. A further thirty staff and students from The Holy Family School will continue a long and proud tradition of service to the sick established in the school over many years. The students will travel with members of the Society of Our Lady of Lourdes from Stansted.
On Monday 25th May this group totaling over one hundred will be joined by a further thirty five pilgrims who are part of the Keighley Faith and Light Group. There has been a good deal of planning and discussion prior to the visit to ensure that the group will work as a cohesive unit whilst in Lourdes supporting each other and attending many of the same Services.
This year the Massabielle Group have worked hard to raise funds to make this visit possible and have been generously supported in their endeavours. There has been a Christmas Fayre, A Concert with The Airedale Singers, A Ceilidh Night at Branshaw Golf Club, A Camel Race Night in Bradford and Wartime Lunches in St Anne’s Catholic Community Centre.
Most recently there has been a Grand Italian Celebration organised by the Keighley Italian Community which was a resounding success, and on Monday 4th May the Fourth Annual Golf Tournament was held at Branshaw Golf Club and proved to be as popular as in previous years.
At the end of September the Massabielle Group plan to have a very special Presentation and Launch of the 2016 Pilgrimage. At this event Aaron Keane, a former student of Holy Family School, along with two friends will present the monies they have raised from The Tough Mudder Challenge to be held in the grounds of Broughton Hall on August 2nd .
We lost a total of 4 of our Assisted Pilgrims through bereavement or illness but those who were able to travel really enjoyed it and were most grateful for the care and attention they received in the Accueil.
The Pilgrimage proved to be a real success for all involved. Perhaps the most heartening aspect was the presence of young families and their children. Four of the eight children who came with us made their First Holy Communion on the Sunday they returned from Lourdes, The Feast of Corpus Christi. We feel that this memorable Pilgrimage gave them something that they will never forget. Money could not buy the experience they had in Lourdes.
We are very aware that so many of the memorable experiences we have had in Lourdes have been simply stumbled across. To some this would sound like a coincidence, we feel that for so many of us, from a faith standpoint, regard this as Providence and undoubtedly a great blessing to all those who have been involved.
Epiphanies - moments of grace in daily life - Mary Murphy
The Miracle of Lourdes
That year, the part of France in which we were staying with friends was only a couple of hours away from Lourdes, and we all agreed that a trip was in order. The day we had chosen to travel was one of the hottest we had experienced since arriving. A molten sun beat down mercilessly, scorching the air about us, leaving us limpand exhausted; and filling my head, at least, with a dazed longing for cool Irish streams, for blessed, fresh, Irish rain.
And Lourdes! Lourdes was instantly disappointing. I had never been there before and I had expected to feel ... I don't know ... something ... some sense of holiness of the place ... anything to indicate that this was a special place, a place apart, a place that enabled one to transcend the limitations of ordinary experience.
Instead, I found myself resenting everything: the suffocating heat, the crowds, the noise, the shops and stalls, the haggling and chattering, the smells of food which were making my stomach lurch sickeningly. Like a disappointed child I wanted to go home immediately.
We went to the Grotto but I could feel nothing, just a huge lump in my throat that kept threatening to choke me. Time passed in a hot, dizzying swirl of noise, shapes and colours; I dimly heard someone say that the procession of the sick had started.
I could hear the sound of voices raised in song and then the sick came into view; some walking, some in wheelchairs, some on stretchers - so many sick and suffering humans. I saw faces gaunt and emaciated; I saw bodies shrivelled and wasted. I heard prayers uttered in many different tongues. I saw beseeching eyes, supplicating hands; above all, I witnessed a strength of noble courage of a kind I had never witnessed so powerfully before.
The air about me now was charged with compassion and love, with an almost unbearable tenderness. The holiness of the place settled about me for the first time - a holiness borne out of the gift of human suffering offered over and over again to God with faith and hope and love.
I became aware that the lump in my throat had dissolved and that the tears were coursing down my face. I felt my soul rise to be at one with the suffering and I felt the healing deep in my heart's core.
No one leaves Lourdes without a gain in faith. Moral and spiritual cures are more marvellous than physical cures. Some go to Lourdes with lifetime prejudices, yet their minds are cleared in a sudden manner. Frequently scepticism gives way to faith; coldness and antagonism become whole hearted love of God. Again and again those who are not cured of bodily pain receive an increase of faith and resignation – true peace of soul.