About the A+B Lourdes Pilgrimage

LourdesEach year the Roman Catholic diocese of Arundel and Brighton organises a pilgrimage to Lourdes for about 800 people.  the group consists of chaplains, nurses, doctors, able bodied pilgrims and about 250 helpers and 250 sick and disabled pilgrims.

We leave via coaches or ambulances from around the diocese and take a ferry to Calais. From here we board a chartered train which has 3 ambulance carriages many couchette’s and a luggage carriage.

The boarding is a busy time with lots of greetings of friends and having to get 120 disabled pilgrims onto the hospital carriages.Hospital Carriage

The train journey lasts about 12-16 hours depending on when SNCF can slot us into their timetable.   The good thing about the duration of the journey is that it allows you to spend time with your group and get to know everybody.

Its generally a relief however when we finally arrive in Lourdes as we can freshen up and get settled in our hotels or the Accueil.

Whilst in Lourdes we spend our time in our groups, listening and talking and putting each others needs first.  There is a strong spiritual side in prayer and reflection, but most of our time is spent looking outwards by our actions as a group rather than reflecting inwards in retreat.

We share Mass daily in an joyful and energetic service as well as taking part in the Blessed Scarement and torch lit processions during the week. 

During the rest of the week the sick and helpers spend time together in the cafe having a cool drink, or exploring the sanctuary enjoying the peace and tranquility of some parts and the hustle around the grotto and the baths. But the important aspect is spending time in each others company, often in situations you would normally find yourself very uncomfortable with.

As helper’s we are privileged to be able to offer our strength and support to those who need it, and in return, although expecting nothing, we receive healing in our own ways.

It its very difficult to try and explain what the pilgrimage offers, but I would say that it shows what a community can be like if everybody puts other peoples needs first.

Please feel free to comment below with your own views on the Pilgrimage. I found this very difficult to write as its hard to express what the pilgrimage is.

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