Liverpool in Lourdes 2012

443139531_Lourdes01.jpg 1675861718_Lourdes02.jpg 1263606139_Lourdes03.jpg The eighty-second annual Liverpool Archdiocesan Pilgrimage travelled to Lourdes on Friday, 20 July 2012.  The Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, led the pilgrimage of over 1,300 pilgrims.  102 travelled as sick pilgrims of which 80 stayed in the special accommodation of the Accueil St Frai.

The theme of this year’s pilgrimage was ‘Praying the Rosary with Bernadette’ and on the first morning, Saturday 21 July, the Archbishop celebrated a Mass of Welcome in St Bernadette’s Church attended by all the sick and helpers. In his Homily the Archbishop spoke of St Paul's words,'in the fulness of time' and related them to Lourdes saying:

'When the fullness of time had come, a sickly, poor, insignificant girl of that unknown place Lourdes, of the bankrupt Soubirous family, came to find wood to warm the family hovel. She opened her eyes, her heart, and saw and listened and obeyed: and just on time dug a tiny spring for the healing of the nations.'

On Saturday evening the Archbishop celebrated a Mass of Welcome in Notre Dame church for the 450 young people travelling with the Liverpool Youth Pilgrimage by coach from Chorley, Knowsley, the Isle of Man, Leyland, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan. Ten coaches had made the twenty-six hour journey following which the young pilgrims had to get up as early as 4:30 am to work in the hospital, with others following them down in order to push the pilgrims in wheelchairs to the different places of devotion and to Mass.  In his homily Archbishop Patrick encouraged the young pilgrims to follow the example of Mary:

'Each one of us may make Mary’s prayer our own this week: dare at least once and I promise so to do each day, with, among, for you: pray a whole hour.

'Allow the Lord God to call you by the name his love, creativity, compassion, grace, utters in the depth of your being.

'Be overawed by the God who comes so close by: be awe struck be afraid and recognise in one and the same breath: how useless as we all can see are weapons, clever banking, big firms out to accomplish justice for all, authentic security, peace on earth: recognise the resources you have: but then allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow you and accomplish with you, through you who knows what fresh possibilities are God’s loving, wisdom, wisest love, generous love.'

On Sunday morning, 22 July, Mass was celebrated in the Grotto, the holiest place in Lourdes, where it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette on eighteen occasions 154 years ago in 1858. Sunday evening saw a Service of Reconciliation in St Bernadette's church at which Archbishop Patrick encouraged the pilgrims to be strong in their faith:

'We enter into strange, even uncomfortable territory tonight: how can we be secure from God’s anger? We shall come to joyful truth: but only the truth can set us free. In this coming time we will not block out the unpleasant facts of our days: we will consecrate ourselves, be renewed in strong, searching holiness; let, yes, the Lord’s own prayer scrutinise and judge our whole way of life. So shall we be renewed and be signs of the Holy Spirit who renews the face of the earth.'

The following day, Monday 23 July, Mass was celebrated in the Rosary Basilica before pilgrims joined in the traditional Marian Torchlight Procession at 9.00 pm.

On Tuesday 24 July Mass in St Bernadette’s church when Archbishop Patrick reflected on the priesthood and the love of God in his homily:

'Move others, not by oratory, flattery, witticisms, or spin, or watering down: but by love which, as is blatantly obvious, starts where people are and with what they understand: but loves too much to leave them as they are. Instead it longs for those we serve ‘with all the saints to grasp the breadth and the length and the height and the depth: until knowing the love of Christ which is beyond knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.'

The Basilica of St Pius X was the setting for the International Mass on Wednesday 25 July, the Feast of St James, when the pilgrims joined others from throughout the world.  Archbishop Patrick was the Celebrant and spoke of discipleship and service:

'For the sick need the healthy, but the healthy need the sick; the strong need the weak as much as the weak need the strong: the young and old need each other.'

Following Mass of the Anointing of the Sick and 
a Farewell Service on Thursday afternoon the Esplandade Altar Liverpool's pilgrims returned on Friday 27 July.