The largest ever Pilgrimage from the Archdiocese of Dublin to Lourdes is continuing this week.
2008 is the Jubilee year for Lourdes, the 150th Anniversary of the Apparitions of Our Lady to St. Bernadette in 1858. Pope Benedict XVI will visit the Shrine for three days, beginning on Saturday next (13th)
Among the 3,000 travelling to Lourdes from the Dublin Diocese are 180 sick, 700 helpers, 8 doctors and 55 nurses. 15 secondary schools will be represented by pupils and teachers. The pilgrimage is led by the Archbishop of Dublin Dr. Diarmuid Martin, who is joined by Cardinal Desmond Connell and 50 priests of the Diocese.
Archbishop Martin has led the pilgrimage since becoming Archbishop over four years ago. He said he was heartened by the ongoing spirit of commitment, faith and charity shown by all those who take part, particularly young volunteers, whom he has found, generally come back from Lourdes enriched by the experience of prayer and their work with the sick at the Shrine.
“The Lourdes Pilgrimage is a great event for he entire Diocesan family, “said Archbishop Martin, “The sick recall all of us to the fact that we need to build a caring society and that that care is mutual. These young man and women who travel with us this week to help are very talented and with a great future ahead of them. Yet, they are often fragile and insecure in the face of the hard and increasingly competitive world in which they will have to live. They learn intensely from the wisdom of the sick that have come to see that there are other values in society than just being among the top elite.”
Pilgrimage Director, Fr. John Gilligan paid tribute to all those who contributed to the pilgrimage, in this, the busiest year in its history. “Our volunteers continue to give us their time, expertise and funding, without complaint year after year. The pilgrimage is a massive exercise in planning and organisation, which would simply not be possible without the dedication of so many people.” said Fr. Gilligan, “I pray that this year’s pilgrimage, particularly in the Jubilee year will reward their efforts yet again. We travel together in the spirit of Jubilee to acknowledge where we are on our journey, not to get caught in past difficulties, but to return home renewed, refreshed and hope filled for the future.