2,000 people are departing Dublin airport this morning (Monday) as part of the largest annual pilgrimage to leave Ireland for the French Marian Shrine of Lourdes.
The 66th Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage runs until Saturday and will be led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
From 6am this morning seven specially chartered flights have been leaving Dublin airport with 175 sick pilgrims, 52 volunteer nurses and 8 doctors and 560 volunteer helpers and 300 young people and students as well as parish groupings.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is leading the Pilgrimage for the 12th time, having first travelled as a seminarian. The Pastoral theme of this year’s Pilgrimage is “The Joy of Mission”. Archbishop Martin said the Lourdes Pilgrimage was extraordinary in how it could bring together so many and impress so many; “from strong believers to the plain curious, and even perhaps the cynical.” He will celebrate the Opening Mass at the Grotto with the entire group tomorrow morning.
Director, Fr. Martin Noone, said that all involved with the pilgrimage were greatly encouraged this year by an increase in interest in Lourdes, particularly from parishes and schools. Fr. Noone said; “the fact that 300 students and young people have signed up for this pilgrimage is really heartening to all involved and gives us hope for the next 66 years.” He said in his experience, almost every young person who joined in the pilgrimage over the years was positively influenced by that experience – with many continuing to take part into adulthood – and even old age! “The connections forged with young people working as helpers and the sick and elderly is always a joyful experience for both – the older pilgrims interact with a generation which may be unfamiliar to many of them, while the young people leave with a sense of what is important and of value in life – health, hope and the sense of fulfilment that comes from going beyond ourselves and reaching out to those who need us.”
The Dublin volunteer group is made of up nurses, doctors, handmaids, brancardiers, secondary school students and voluntary helpers. 18 Dublin Parishes travel in their parish groups. 130 students from 22 secondary schools across the Diocese are taking part. Music for the pilgrimage will be led by the Dublin Lourdes choir, which has recently recorded and produced new music for the 2015 Pilgrimage. The Dublin Lourdes Folk Group has grown in both numbers and harmony over the last couple of years and will also be enhancing the liturgies in Lourdes. Throughout the Pilgrimage students taking part will blog about their experience.
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.
- Further information: Annette O Donnell, Director of Communications 01-8360723
- Photos from Dublin Airport this morning are now available from John Mc Elroy Photos 087 2416985
- Updates from the Pilgrimage will be available throughout the week on dublindiocese.ie
Note to Editors
- This is the 66th 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. Andrew’s 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 Dún 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 lourdes.dublindiocese.ie