Following two years when it was not possible to travel to Lourdes, we have decided that this year gives an opportunity to re-establish the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Shrine. It will be an expression of our living Faith, and I do hope that many of you will be encouraged to accompany me.
Caution and prudence will play their part, but the overwhelming element will be our Faith. The Pilgrimage will be an expression of our confident trust that Our Blessed Lady is close to her children, keeping us safe, and drawing us closer to her Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Pilgrimage will be an Act of Faith and generous trust on our part. It will be guided by the Holy Spirit, and will serve the Church in Lancaster, inspiring confidence in a time when many are tempted to retreat into themselves, tempted to stay at home, tempted even to doubt that our lives can ever be the same again.
I am particularly moved to make this Pilgrimage this year because in the autumn the relics of Saint Bernadette will be brought to England and be welcomed in every Cathedral. Specific dates have yet to be given as to when we will welcome Saint Bernadette’s relics to Lancaster. It is fitting that a good number from the Diocese will first have made a Pilgrimage to the Grotto at Lourdes and have prayed in that place so dear to Saint Bernadette. We know that her mystical experience at the Grotto changed her life. Our time spent in procession and prayer there will be an experience of personal blessing and bring a great blessing to so many others unable to travel abroad.
I pray that this news will plant a seed of Faith in your hearts, and that you will respond with enthusiasm and generosity. May it be an experience of Grace for each of you, and bring new heart to those for whom you pray. I also ask you now to keep this endeavour in your prayers as this new year is still just beginning. May it serve to change the pervading atmosphere of fear and anxiety into a time of encouragement and hope.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.
With my blessing,
+Paul Swarbrick, Bishop of Lancaster
Linda Wisdom, Director of Operations provides us with details of this year’s Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. There are a number of very important changes to arrangements in previous years so please read the following information very carefully
When is the Pilgrimage?
We depart from Manchester airport to Lourdes on Friday 22nd July and return on Friday 29th July.
There are many challenges within the planning process and there is little doubt that the pilgrimage will be different to other years. However, we will thoroughly plan the pilgrimage in order to make it a safe and enjoyable time and leave us spiritually renewed.
We will continue to be guided by the government and our Chief Nurse. We should bear in mind however that planning is time sensitive, it is based on the restrictions and situation at that moment in time. Therefore, preparations laid will be regularly reviewed and updated in accordance with merging data and guidance from both the UK and France. Things will likely need to change along the way.
Some changes for 2022
The Booking Forms will be more comprehensive than in previous years because we will all have requirements to meet in order that we may travel, currently this includes the need to be fully vaccinated and we have decided this should include youth volunteers. Additionally, a comprehensive booking form is needed so that the Chief Nurse can examine individual applications.
Unfortunately, this year it will not be possible to take pilgrims to Lourdes that need personal/nursing assistance from the Medical Team. This is because the Medical Team will be on-call to serve the wider needs of pilgrims. Those that need personal care can still apply to come to Lourdes if they have the support of relatives or friends who are able to look after them during the week. We will still provide the usual wheelchair assistance service. Pilgrims who require wheelchair assistance will only be accepted provisionally until 1st May 2022 – which is the deadline for all bookings. This will allow us to work out our pilgrim and volunteer numbers, so that we can ensure an adequate assisted pilgrim to helper ratio is retained. For this reason, no bookings will be accepted after May 1st 2022.
Overland travel comes with an increased risk and so, with this in mind, it has been agreed that there will be no youth coach or independent coach this year, all pilgrims will travel on the diocesan chartered flight. One of the many advantages of travelling together is that there will be the support of the Medical Team on hand.
The Tour Operator used for the 2022 pilgrimage will be Joe Walsh Tours operated with Northern Star Travel (Atol Protected 11313). It will be mandatory this year for, all pilgrims take out the Travel Insurance offered by the Tour Operator. This will provide pilgrimage organisers with certainty that pilgrims have full comprehensive cover inclusive of Covid-19 related claims.
You may be asking “how safe is it to go to Lourdes?’
The Sanctuary in Lourdes along with the hotels, bars and shops have put in place extensive measures to mitigate the risk associated with Covid-19 community spread. Covid-19 cases in Lourdes and the surrounding area are reportedly very low, and the area has the highest vaccination up-take levels in France (96%). The Diocesan Hotels we will be using this year are the Hotel Eliseo , Hotel St George & Hotel Agena. To book please contact: 0161 820 8790 or via the website www.joewalshtours.co.uk
The Pilgrimage Theme for 2022
“Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here and that people should come in procession”
During the 3rd apparition, Bernadette had received and accepted an invitation from the lady: “Would you do me the honour of coming here for fifteen days?” And now during this, the 13th apparition, this personal, intimate although demanding dialogue, which was full of politeness, tenderness and affection, was opened up to the whole Church, to the whole of humanity. Bernadette had just received, for the first time in her life, a mission that concerned other people: “Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here and that people should come in procession”.
Calling all Lourdes Helpers
The need for helpers is greater this year as we must ensure we have plenty support for pilgrims. Anyone who would like to work as an adult volunteer in any of our teams please contact Nikki Wisdom firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are 16 years or older please consider coming on pilgrimage this year. We need you! Information will be available soon:- www.castleriggmanor.co.uk
Posters and further information will be sent out to all parishes very soon
After 2 years of this global pandemic, which has brought much suffering and sadness, let us respond to our Blessed Mother and St Bernadette’s mission to all humanity and go to Lourdes in procession!