Today the Carmelite group gathered for a coffee social in the Hotel Solitude where pilgrims were welcomed by the Prior Provincial, Fr. Wilfrid McGreal, and the Carmelite Pilgrimage Director, Johan Bergström-Allen.
The Catholic Association pilgrimage officially began with the Gathering Mass in the St. Bernadette Church (appropriately in the "Carmel" side of the church). During this celebration of the Eucharist the hands of all volunteer helpers were blessed with oil.
Below is a video of the homily at the Mass preached by Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton (one of the five dioceses which take part in the Catholic Association pilgrimage).
At the end of Mass new members were admitted to the Catholic Association Hospitalité (the helper's organisation that provides technical preparation, spiritual support and a social network), including a number from the Carmelite group. A particular note of congratulations to Carmelite "handmaid" (female helper) Mary Okeke from the parish of English Martyrs, Walworth, who made her commitment as a full member of the Hospitalité having served with the C.A. for five years.
On Saturday evening the Catholic Association took part in the Torchlight Marian Procession. We were joined by two French Dioceses, the pilgrimage of gypsies and travelling people (who serenaded us with beautiful music), and fellow pilgrims from around the world; a truly beautiful sight.