Limerick’s Bishop Brendan Leahy said the union of young and old in peace, reflection and prayer on the annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes was a spiritually enrichening and special experience for all involved.
Over 500 pilgrims, including 120 young people from the diocesan youth programme, travelled to Lourdes from Limerick last month.
For many of the young people it was their first time to visit the world-famous Marian Shrine, and their enthusiasm ensured the pilgrimage was joyous and energised.
There were many highlights to the week, among them the candle light processions and the Sunday International Mass attended by over 10,000 pilgrims from all over the world.
Bishop Leahy said seeing the huge number of people professing their faith together was hugely inspiring.
“Several people com-mented on how it did their faith good to see such a range of people of all ages and backgrounds together, professing their faith in Jesus Christ.”
The main theme of the pilgrimage this year was ‘Blessed are the poor’, which Dr Leahy said had a special resonance with many seeking solace from complexities of life including money and self-image.
“It reminded us to place our securities in God and not in secondary realities that can so easily fill our lives – money, self-image, what others will think of us. At our opening Mass at the Grotto we had a chance to repeat before Mary our desire to have God alone as our security in life,” he said.
“Among the over 500 pilgrims, we had 120 young people on the youth programme. It’s always impressive to see the young and older on pilgrimage together, enjoying each other’s company and help.”
The bishop added that many pilgrims were touched by their experience in Lourdes, and was an event they will always remember.
“Given the huge numbers of pilgrims in Lourdes during the days we were there, the candle light procession was very moving. As the darkness of the evening enveloped us, the sea of lighted candles surging up to the “Ave Maria” refrain was a sight we will long remember.
“A lovely element of the concluding ceremony was testimonies from pilgrims of what it meant to them to be in Lourdes.”