A whole new dimension to Limerick’s annual devotion to the Lourdes Pilgrimage will unfold this week when this year’s version goes virtual from Friday.
There may not be the 2,000km journey and all the excitement and fun that goes with it due to the cancellation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic but there will be an opportunity for a spiritual connection across the internet as pilgrims gather online instead this year.
Under the Patronage of Bishop Brendan Leahy and Lourdes Director Fr. Frank O’Dea, the Lourdes 2020 Virtual Pilgrimage runs from this Friday June 19th to Monday June 22nd, with celebrations being streamed live on the Limerick Diocese Facebook.
The pilgrimage – details of which are on the diocesan website – will open at midday on Friday with an Opening Ceremony celebrated by Bishop Brendan Leahy and Fr. Frank O’Dea, followed by Rosary led by Sr. Margaret Hogan at 430pm.
Mass will have a midday start again on Saturday, with Fr. Michael O’Shea the celebrant and a homily given by Canon Willie Fitzmaurice, with Stations of the Cross led by Fr. Sean Harmon at 4:30pm.
Sunday’s pilgrimage mass will be celebrated by Fr. Tony Mullins at 10am, with reflection/testimony read by Aoife Daly, followed by a Healing/Washing Ceremony by Fr. Michael O’Shea at 4:30pm.
Monday Mass will again be celebrated at 12 midday, with the virtual pilgrimage having an 8pm closing ceremony with Aoife Walsh, Karen Kiely, the Limerick Lourdes Youth Group and their Leaders.
Said Bishop Leahy: “We have missed so much by way of Church celebrations over the COVID-19 lockdown months but the Lourdes Pilgrimage is a huge loss to the 500 plus pilgrims who make this very special journey each year.
“It’s the highlight of the year for so many and while we can’t make it to Lourdes this year, we will be there in spirit over the course of the four days as we join for these special celebrations. We can’t replicate Lourdes but we are going to have celebrations which will strike a special Lourdes chord for pilgrims. As our Lourdes Pilgrimage Director Frank O’Dea says, while this year’s pilgrimage is virtual, it is still very much real.
“Our afternoon liturgies will seek to reflect the traditional Lourdes programme as much as possible as well. Many want to go on the pilgrimage each year but for one reason or another can’t join us. While it’s not the same this year, of course, they can get a real taste of the special celebration we have annually from Friday. We would welcome all and hope that this conjures up another positive moment from this COVID period.”