The 40th Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes took place from 30th June – 6th July 2023, with over 325 people travelling from the Diocese, including a group of 160 Hallam Youth drawn from nearly all our High Schools. The theme chosen by the Sanctuary this year was “Build a Chapel here”. At our Opening Mass, Bishop Ralph reflected on how St Francis of Assisi thought God was asking him to rebuild the small chapel in San Damiano, but then realised he was in fact being called to help rebuild the Church itself. Throughout the week we reflected on how each of us can “Build the Church” in the Diocese of Hallam, and each day focused on a specific word from our Pilgrimage Prayer.
Over 50 Volunteer helpers helped look after our Assisted Pilgrims, who needed some form of support during the pilgrimage, and the youth helped push them in wheelchairs. The bond that is formed between our young people and the assisted pilgrims is one of the highlights of our pilgrimage experience.
Our first day was spent travelling, orientation for the youth, and the opportunity for the youth to meet the Assisted Pilgrims. Our first Mass on Saturday morning included the Blessing of the Helpers, and in the afternoon we had our Service of Reconciliation led by Fr Stephen Ssekiwunga. Our diocesan candle was lit that evening in a short ceremony, as we prayed for the Diocese. On Sunday we had the powerful Mass with Anointing of the Sick where Fr. Henry Woodhouse preached the homily. Then Bishop Ralph led the Rosary at the Grotto, pilgrims did the the Stations of the Cross. In the evening we came together to take part in the Torchlight Procession. On Monday morning Bishop Ralph presided at Mass at the Grotto as we joined with the Diocese of Paisley. Hallam Youth went up to the chapel in the Youth Village for their own liturgy in the afternoon, and we came together in the evening for a beautiful Holy Hour, led by Fr. Lee Marshall and young adults from St. Vincent’s MissionHub.
On Tuesday, we had Mass in the Rosary Basilica where Bishop John preached on the Theme. In the afternoon we had our Water Liturgy led by Fr. Gus O’Reilly, and then took part as a diocese in the Blessed Sacrament Procession. Tuesday evening we celebrated our 40th pilgrimage with a party.
Wednesday morning saw us participate in the International Mass with 18 Bishops, 160 priests and over 7,000 other pilgrims. We had our Thanksgiving Service Wednesday afternoon and then joined together for our Closing Mass on Thursday morning, where Mgr. Peter Kirkham spoke about the importance of remembering we are part of the Universal Church once we are back home.
Many of the services during the week were livestreamed so that people back in the diocese could join remotely. Those services are now available to watch through the links on our website www.hallam-lourdes.com, together with a video of the week and the daily reflections recorded by Fr. Lee.
Next year’s pilgrimage will take place from 28th June to 4th July 2024. You can register interest by emailing [email protected]
Images (c) Sanctuaire NDL – Photo Durand