Carmelite Pilgrimage to Lourdes 2009

Between 21st and 28th August 2009 the British Province of Carmelites made its annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, in conjunction with the Catholic Association.

Arriving by plane and train, the 50 or so members of the Carmelite group joined the 600-strong Catholic Association pilgrimage at the opening Mass on Saturday 22nd. During this Mass helpers' hands were annointed for the service of the sick and disabled.

Brother Tony O'Donnell from the Carmelite community in Llanelli having his hands annointed by the spiritual leader of the pilgrimage, Bishop Patrick Lynch.

Carmelite Brothers Ged Walsh (left) and Neil Scott were among the helpers on the pilgrimage.

Carmelite pilgrims at the Opening Mass.

On the Saturday evening the pilgrims took part in the Marian Torchlight Procession.

After International Mass on Sunday morning, the Catholic Association pilgrims took part in the Blessed Sacrament Procession, following the Carmelite banner.

The Carmelite banner in the Blessed Sacrament Procession.

On the morning of Monday 24th August the pilgrimage gathered for Mass at the Grotto where in 1858 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared eighteen times to Saint Bernadette Soubirous.

Musicians supported worship with beautiful music at the Grotto Mass.

Brother Tony (right) with fellow pilgrims at the Grotto Mass.

The pastoral theme proposed by the Lourdes Sanctuaries for 2009 is "Following the Way of Saint Bernadette", and this was symbolised during the offertory procession at the Grotto Mass by a white sheet on which pilgrims had marked their footsteps in paint, organised by the Helpers' Children's Group.

Lay Carmelite Johan Bergström-Allen assists the Helpers' Children's Group to bring their artwork to the altar during the Grotto Mass.

After the Grotto Mass, the entire pilgrimage gathered for its annual photograph, capturing another moment in the history of the Catholic Association which has existed for over a hundred years.

The 2009 Catholic Association pilgrimage photograph.

Some members of the Young Helpers' Group were sponsored by the Carmelites.

The Catholic Association is able to bring sick and disabled pilgrims to Lourdes - 120 this year - thanks to a large team of professional and amateur volunteers who give of their time to serve those in need. This year the Carmelite group within the Catholic Association was able to provide three nurses, three young helpers, and nearly a dozen other helpers ('handmaids and brancardiers'), including several Carmelite friars.

The nurses' group included Tiago Casaleiro (second from left) and Andy Joyce (centre), both postulants of the Carmelite Order.

Brother Neil Scott (left) with Carmelite young helper Roy Scivyer.

A member of the Carmelite group, Shell Roca, serves the pilgrimage by signing for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The Carmelite Pilgrimage Director, Johan Bergström-Allen (right), coordinated the logistics of all the Catholic Association ceremonies.

The helpers who come with the Catholic Association pilgrimage are invited to join a Confraternity known as the Hospitalité, which provides practical training, spiritual support and a social network. At the start of the week four members of the Carmelite group joined the Hospitalité as Ordinary Members. On the Monday evening two more members of the Carmelite group were admitted to the Hospitalité during the Confraternity's Evening Prayer Service. Phyllis Kelly and Ellen Davis (both parishioners from English Martyrs Church in Walworth, South London, which is served by the Carmelite friars) came on the pilgrimage as Assisted (sick) Pilgrims. Having been with the Catholic Association on various occasions, they were invited to join the Hospitalité as Prayer Members, supporting the work of the helpers spiritually. They were enrolled in the Hospitalité by Rt. Rev. Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth, who is President of the Hospitalité.

Ellen Davis (front right) and Phyllis Kelly (centre) with members of the Catholic Association Hospitalité Council and other Carmelites who had been admitted to the Hospitalité during the week.

On the morning of Tuesday 25th August the five dioceses and various groups who come to Lourdes under the umbrella of the Catholic Association celebrated their individual Masses. In the Chapel of Saint Jean Vianney, the Carmelite Eucharist was celebrated by Very Rev. Fr. Wilfrid McGreal, Prior Provincial of the British Province of Carmelites.

The Word of God was proclaimed at the Carmelite group Mass by two members of the Carmelite Family from York, Miriam Purcell and Fr. Tony Lester.

During the Carmelite group Mass, Brother Ged Walsh renewed his profession of simple vows as a friar. Placing his hands in those of the Prior Provincial, he promised to God to follow the Order's Rule and Constitutions for a further three years, whilst he continues his studies and his journey towards Solemn Profession.

Brother Ged renewing his profession of vows in the hands of Fr. Wilfrid McGreal.

Brother Ged signing his profession document on the altar.

During the group photo which followed the Mass, the Carmelites from Britain had the pleasure of meeting Carmelite friars from Spain and Ireland who were also in Lourdes on pilgrimage.

The Carmelite group photo 2009

Following a Penitential Service and visit to the Baths on Wednesday morning, Carmelite pilgrims joined the Catholic Association Mass organised by children. For many this joyful and simple celebration is a highlight of the week. The Mass was organised by the Glanfield Children's Group, which brings to Lourdes sick and disabled children and adults with learning difficulities. Over the past year members of the Carmelite pilgrimage have raised £2000.00 in support of this worthwhile group. Members of the Glanfield Group joined the Carmelite group for a social on Wednesday evening, hosted by the Prior Provincial.

The Glanfield Children's Group at Mass.

Carmelites were among those who volunteered with the Glanfield Children's Group.

On Thursday 27th August a talk by the Catholic Association's Chief Medical Officer on the medical aspects of Lourdes was followed by a celebration of Mass with the Anointing of the Sick. For many this is a poignant and emotional ceremony during which pilgrims pray for the well-being of those who are ill in whatever way. In the afternoon the Assisted Pilgrims of the Catholic Association came in procession to the Grotto, and left burning their a pilgrimage candle.

The pilgrimage candle being carried by Carmelite Tertiary Angela Bergström-Allen.

The Carmelite and Catholic Association banners at the Grotto.

The Carmelite banner flanking the Catholic Association pilgrimage candle, held by the Chief Handmaid and Chief Brancardier.

Following a Service of Thanksgiving for the graces received during the pilgrimage, the Assisted Pilgrims celebrated their final night in Lourdes with a party in their Accueil (House of Welcome).

Carmelite pilgrim Shell Roca signing for the deaf at the Thanksgiving Service.

The pilgrimage concluded with a Sending Forth Mass on the morning of Friday 28th August.

Next year's Carmelite pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Catholic Association will take place between 20th and 27th August 2010.


Photographs kindly provided by: Lacaze photographers, Lourdes; Angela & Johan Bergström-Allen.