Why did you first decide to join us on pilgrimage or virtual pilgrimage?
I attended a Virtual Pilgrimage in Gaming, Austria led by Pam Ryan. It came at a time when I had been asking God for a mission. The story of Lourdes is also very important to me because my own brother suffers from severe autism. Pam and Deacon Dan invited me to join the pilgrimage, and I think their invitation was an answer to my prayers.
What has been your favorite aspect of service?
The week of the pilgrimage, spent living in close community with the pilgrims while seeing the amazing examples of charity set by the volunteers.
Favorite memory of pilgrimage?
Fr. Mike Taylor, one of the chaplains, discovered that I liked to sing in the choir. He asked me to take him to the choir area for the rosary procession, and asked the priest in charge to let us both join the choir.
When you think of Lourdes, what do you think of?
Hard-working, joyful, loving, self-sacrificing Christians. “Grace in Liquid Form.” A chance for the physically and spiritually afflicted to heal.
How has service with Lourdes Volunteers influenced your faith / daily life?
Staying true to the faith is not easy, especially when the failings of the church are put on public display. Our Lady’s kindness, and the example set by all those serving her in Lourdes, has helped me to remember that, even when times are hard, God’s love and truth are still abundant.
What would you tell someone considering service and/or pilgrimage with Lourdes Volunteers?
Everyone’s experience is a bit different. Our Lady tailors each pilgrim’s and volunteer’s time in Lourdes with that person’s needs in mind. Everything that happens there—easy, hard, heartwarming or embarrassing—is part of her plan, even if the significance won’t become clear until long afterward.
Be warned, Satan will try to ruin your trip. Don’t worry, it’s fun to watch Mom crush his head. You may run into unexpected problems with transportation, financing, etc. Pray, and be willing to accept help from others. You can’t do it solo, and if you humble yourself to admit that, Our Lady will make sure you get the help you need.
In what ways do you hope to continue expressing the Message of Lourdes?
By witnessing to the value of every life through pro-life volunteer work. By supporting the sick and disabled, especially among my family and friends. By praying to Our Lady for her healing for my church and my country.
Anything else you wish to add?
If you’re not sure if you should go: pray. Talk to others who have gone. Consider where you want to see Our Lady’s grace in action: hardships in your own life, sick friends and relatives, loved ones in need of conversion. Ask God what your talents are and where He wants you to use them. And don’t be afraid to ask God for a sign.