How could you put on one page the diversity of the spiritual journey that is the Oblate Lourdes Pilgrimage. For me, this was probably the best so far because of the many friends that I have made and that I keep in contact with over the rest of the year. Friends, who have come to mean so much in my life and that have given me the courage to join them on the pilgrimage, no matter what the barriers. From the moment I got off the bus in the hospital until the last day, life was filled with fun, laughter, chat, sharing, praying and soul searching. Added to that is the spiritual renewal that uplifts my soul and highlights the need to give thanks for all the privileges I enjoy and that sometimes I take for granted.
The theme this year was the call of Pope Francis to have unity and love of our fellow man, and was to the fore in the ceremonies and homilies. He asked that we not spend time like mourners, but by being joyful and aware of those sick, rejected, or misunderstood and uniting in prayer with those present and for those who asked for our prayers. These aspirations were encouraged by the many inspiring homilies that touched deep within.
The awesome numbers of pilgrims that continually file past the Grotto until late into the night, the torchlight procession with the praying of the rosary, the uplifting hymns, and the raised candles, is akin to what we expect to hear when life is over. Heavenly, sacred and the unifying of people of all ages and backgrounds in prayerful concert. For anyone poor in spirit and searching, this is an awakening of an encounter with the Mother of God.
No amount of gratitude would repay the work done by the Oblate priests, leaders, helpers and young helpers in enabling people who are sick, disabled in body and spirit and in need of consolation and compassion that is given so freely and lovingly on this unique and wonderful pilgrimage every year. Sincere thanks to all who make it possible.
Peg Hanafin, 24/9/2015