Why did you first decide to join us on pilgrimage?
I always wanted to visit different Marian sites, and then, as I was watching EWTN, I saw Marlene Watkins being interviewed by Fr. Mitch Pacwa. The first thing that came to my mind was to serve the sick on a holy pilgrimage to Lourdes because I am very Blessed for what God has given me: a wonderful nursing profession.
What has been your favorite aspect of service?
My favorite aspect of pilgrimage is helping the sick during travel and making it possible for them to have a holy pilgrimage to Lourdes.
As a pilgrimage Head Nurse, I interview the special needs pilgrims and their families. We have traveled with pilgrims with cancer, kidney failure, quadriplegia and paraplegia, as well as pilgrims requiring ventilators, oxygen and hemodialysis. While some are at the very end of their lives, all are with hope for a physical or spiritual miracle.
It is a beautiful experience to work with the people in NALV office, the nurses, the physicians, the priests and the leaders who help make the pilgrimage possible. Once, we had a pilgrim who became ill during the flight, and our pilgrimage chaplain anointed the sick pilgrim—a memory that still warms my heart.
Favorite memory of Lourdes?
In 2012, I had the privilege of serving the Lepers from Hawaii. We met them in Rome for the Canonization of St. Marianne Cope and then accompanied them to Lourdes. Serving the Lepers was very meaningful. I had the opportunity to witness their spirituality and gratitude for the saints who took care of their people.
When you think of Lourdes, what do you think of?
I always remember praying the Rosary, kneeling down on the spot where St. Bernadette knelt when the Virgin Mary appeared to her in the Grotto. Being in Lourdes, I am away from the disruptions of my daily routine, and it is in those moments that I feel Our Lady bringing me closer to her Son. Serving the special needs allows me to experience the Love that emanates from those we serve. There is a lot of inner joy and peace in Lourdes.
How has service with Lourdes Volunteers influenced your faith / daily life?
I know that traveling with the sick is very challenging, so I prepare myself spiritually. I pray more, and I go to church, not only on Sundays but on my days off. I ask pilgrims to pray for the volunteers and other pilgrims and to also ask the people in their church to pray for all of us during Holy Mass and Adoration. No matter how busy it is between my nursing job and the preparation for pilgrimage, when I make Holy Mass and Adoration a priority, the rest of the work follows smoothly.
What would you tell someone considering service with Lourdes Volunteers?
Pray for God’s will and for an increase in the desire to serve God’s children. Think of Bernadette’s virtues of humility, obedience and simplicity.
In what ways do you hope to continue expressing the Message of Lourdes?
By living the virtues of St Bernadette in the way we serve, always with compassion, to the poor and the sick.
Any else you wish to add?
We experience a lot of grace when we serve those with special needs.