Lourdes Pilgrimage 2012 - Saturday 25th August

The Saturday morning of the Catholic Association pilgrimage week in Lourdes is devoted to practical matters. A number of helpers' meetings were held at the Accueil Notre Dame.

The first was for new members of the Catholic Association Hospitalité, that is, the confraternity (religious society) for helpers. The C.A. Hospitalité undertakes much of the practical care of pilgrims in Lourdes, and provides its members with practical and spiritual formation, and social networking. After serving in Lourdes for a certain number of years, helpers on the pilgrimage can apply to join the C.A. Hospitalité as 'ordinary' or 'full' members. The first meeting at the Accueil was for those making their commitment this year as members of the Hospitalité.

New orindary and full members of the Catholic Association Hospitalité
receiving a briefing on the roof of the Accueil building in the Sanctuary.

Over 300 volunteers make the pilgrimage possible.
Their briefing on the first morning took place in the Accueil dining room.

The Catholic Association is a pilgrimage organisation in its own right, but it operates in partnership with a number of dioceses and groups who come together as one pilgrimage under the C.A. banner in order to offer more opportunities for bringing the sick and disabled to Lourdes. On the first full day of the pilgrimage many of these groups and dioceses met to discuss the week ahead.

Carmelite Prior Provincial Fr. Wilfrid McGreal (left) welcoming some members
of the Carmelite group pilgrimage during a meeting at the Hotel Solitude.

The pilgrimage officially opens with a Gathering Mass, which this year was celebrated in the St.Bernadette Church.

Carmelite priests and fellow clergy processing into the church with the Gospel book

Every year the Catholic Association pilgrimage is 'led' by one of its various groups or diocese. This year the leadership of the pilgrimage was entrusted to Clifton Diocese. The principal celebrant at the Gathering Mass was the Bishop of Clifton, Rt. Rev. Declan Lang.

Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton Diocese preaching at the Gathering Mass.

A member of the Carmelite group, Shell Roca, signed throughout the pilgrimage
for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Carmelite group young helper Sophie Morgan (centre) joined the CA Music Group

During the Gathering Mass there is an opportunity for helpers serving others on the pilgrimage to have their hands anointed with oil as a sign of God's blessing on their work.

Helpers having their hands anointed for service
by Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton.

Sr. Maureen McNally, FC, Carmelite group nurse,
having her hands anointed for service.

Fr. Wilfrid (centre) and Bishop Paul Hendricks (left)
anointing helpers' hands.

The anointing is a symbol that during the pilgrimage the helpers will be reaching out with Christ's healing touch to others, and will be encountering Christ in others.

Carmelite friar Fr. Tony Lester (left) having his hands anointed for service by
Monsignor Tony Rogers of East Anglia Diocese.

Even the very youngest pilgrims can help serve others in Lourdes.

Praising God in the Eucharist

Bishop Declan presiding at the Eucharist

Fr. Tony Lester distributing Holy Communion
to fellow Carmelite group pilgrim Helen Carroll

After Holy Communion the pilgrimage heads of service (Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nurse, Chief Brancardier and Chief Handmaid) who coordinate the helpers came forward to welcome new ordinary and full members of the Catholic Association Hospitalité.

The pilgrimage Heads of Service coming forward
to welcome new members of the Hospitalité.

Membership of the Hospitalité is shown by wearing a small insignia badge bearing the crest of the Catholic Association. These were blessed by the Patron of the Hospitalité, Rt. Rev. Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton.

Bishop Peter Doyle blessing the insignia of the C.A. Hospitalité

The new members of the Hospitalité were called forward. Those admitted as 'ordinary' members have completed at least one pilgrimage with the Catholic Association; those admitted as 'full' members have to have completed a further two years, proving their dedication to serving other pilgrims. By joining the Hospitalité, members commit to come back to Lourdes with the C.A. in the future, as often as they are able.

Bishop Peter presenting insignia to new members of the C.A. Hospitalité

Mark Fernandes receiving his insignia as a member of the C.A. Hospitalité.
A particular delight for the Carmelite group within the Catholic Association pilgrimage was seeing a number of Carmelite pilgrims making their commitment as full members of the C.A. Hospitalité.
Brother Ged Walsh and Joan Agba of the Carmelite group
being called forward to become full members of the C.A. Hospitalité.

Bishop Peter presenting insignia to new full members of the C.A. Hospitalité from within the Carmelite group: Brother Ged Walsh, Joan Agba, Jean Saunders

Fr. Tony Lester congratulating Stephen Daly on his admission to the Hospitalité

New and full members of the Hospitalité making their act of consecration, promising to serve fellow pilgrims in Lourdes, and the sick and disabled in their home environment.

Hospitalité members committing themselves to serve in Lourdes and at home.
New members of the Hospitalité being presented to the pilgrimage congregation.

The new C.A. Hospitalité members received a warm round of applause.

Pilgrims at prayer in the Gathering Mass.
A see of blue! Members of the C.A. Hospitalité at the Gathering Mass.

Brother Tony O'Donnell at the Gathering Mass with parishioners from the
Carmelite-served parish of English Martyrs, Walworth.

After Mass pilgrims went back to their hotels or the Accueil Notre Dame to continue settling in.

Brother Tony visiting an Assisted Pilgrim from the Carmelite group
in the Accueil Notre Dame.

Carmelite group volunteers (left-right):
Brother Gerard Walsh, Shell Roca, Sophie Morgan.

Brother Tony doing quality control on the tea trolley in the Acceuil Notre Dame!

Every evening the team leaders of the young helpers meet to review the day
and to plan ahead for the next part of the pilgrimage.

On Saturday evening the Catholic Association took part in the Torchlight Marian Procession. Every day in Lourdes there is a Blessed Sacrament Procession in the afternoon, and a Torchlight Marian Procession in the evening, fulfilling the request that Our Lady made to St. Bernadette in 1858 that people should come to Lourdes in procession. The Catholic Association was given the privilege of carrying the statue of Our Lady in the Torchlight Procession (and the less glamorous but equally necessary task of providing some crowd control for the tens of thousands of pilgrims present in Lourdes that evening).

Carmelite volunteers joining fellow Catholic Association volunteers
in forming a 'human chain' to direct the Torchlight Marian Procession.


Catholic Association helpers carrying the statue of Our Lady
in the Torchlight Marian Procession.

Banners lining up for the Procession.

Undaunted by rain, the C.A. pilgrims line up for the Torchlight Marian Procession.

Catholic Association helpers alongside the statue of Our Lady.

Members of the Helpers' Children's Programme carring the cross
in the Torchlight Marian Procession.

The Procession was followed by a party for helpers
on the first full evening of the pilgrimage.

To read about the previous day please click here.
To read about the following day please click here.

Photography: Johan Bergström-Allen, T.O.C.; Photo Lacaze