65 years since it first began, the Dublin Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage begins again this weekend as 2,000 pilgrims leave Dublin airport for the French shrine. It is the largest religious Pilgrimage to leave Ireland annually. From 6am this Sunday seven specially chartered flights will leave Dublin airport with 175 sick pilgrims, 60 nurses and 8 doctors and 560 volunteers, 300 young people and students along with parish groups.
The pilgrimage will be led by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. Archbishop Martin said, “We will gather together at Lourdes in prayer. We unite all our prayers especially with those who are sick or troubled and it is our hope that the days of the Pilgrimage will be days of rest, healing, consolation and renewal in faith. The Theme for this year’s Pilgrimage is Lourdes – The Joy of Conversion.
Director, Fr. Martin Noone, said the energy in the preparation for the pilgrimage had been extraordinary and he was again humbled by the hours of hard work put in by so many volunteers, giving freely of their time to ensure the Pilgrimage would be successful. The Dublin volunteer group is made of up nurses, doctors, handmaids, brancadiers, secondary school students and voluntary helpers. 14 Dublin Parishes travel in their parish groups. Sick Pilgrims travelling stay in the Accueil Notre Dame, a special hotel-like residence first built in 1997 which provides accommodation and support for up to 900 sick people.
Pilgrimage religious exercises for people travelling include Mass and Holy Communion daily, Blessed Sacrament and Torchlight Processions, daily visit to the grotto where our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette, the Stations of the Cross and a visit to the baths in Lourdes.
120 young people from 21 secondary schools across the Diocese are travelling as helpers to assist in the care of the sick pilgrims. Representatives from Crosscare, the social care agency of the Archdiocese will once again travel to Lourdes along with representatives from the Diocesan Office for Evangelisation and Ecumenism. Music for the pilgrimage will be led by the Dublin Lourdes choir. Throughout the Pilgrimage students taking part have been asked to blog about their experience through Diocesan social media sites.
While the Pilgrimage is led by the Archbishop and priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin other Irish people staying or visiting in Lourdes are invited to participate at any time during the week. All Dublin parishes will remember the Pilgrims in prayer at Masses this weekend. Ends
• Further information: Annette O Donnell, Director of Communications 01-8360723/ 087 8143462
• Photos from airport on Sunday will be available from John Mc Elroy Photos, 087 2416985
• Updates from the Pilgrimage will be available throughout the week on www.dublindiocese.ie
Note to Editors
This is the 65th Annual Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. The first Pilgrimage began on Monday morning August 8, 1949. The first group of pilgrims, including 38 sick, gathered together in St. Andrews Church, Westland Row for a special Mass at 9 am presided over by Archbishop John Charles Mc Quaid.
The Archbishop gave his blessing to the pilgrims before they left for special trains to Dun Laoghaire to embark on the Steamer SS Princess Maud for Holyhead. They continued on to London for an overnight stop. Continuing the next day for Folkestone and Boulogne and then by non-stop train to Bordeaux. Here, there was a short stop for Mass in the Cathedral and then on to Lourdes, arriving several hours later. The journey took almost two and a half days.
• More information on the Pilgrimage is available on www.lourdes.dublindiocese.ie