Why did you first decide to join us on pilgrimage?
Individually, we each volunteer for different organizations, but we really wanted to find a way to serve together as a family in a meaningful way. Some friends of ours had just returned from Lourdes with the Order of Malta and were ecstatic about their experience, so we started to research ways for us to volunteer together at Lourdes. We were happy to discover Lourdes North American Volunteers.
What has been your favorite aspect of serving in Lourdes?
There are so many wonderful things about serving in Lourdes that it is hard to name a favorite. Highlights include working side-by-side with others who love their Catholic faith, visiting the Grotto every day, participating in the Rosary processions, attending Mass together, and growing in our faith through daily catechesis. Our most favorite aspect is the opportunity to get to know the pilgrims and to have the honor of serving them while they are on a very special faith journey.
Favorite memory of Lourdes?
The rosary procession is a unique and uplifting experience. Singing the Ave Maria, raising our candles together as one into the night sky, and praying together in unity with hundreds of others in a multitude of languages, is one of our favorite memories.
Another favorite memory is attending Mass in the awesome Underground Basilica. Being together with thousands of other Catholics, you can literally feel the faith in the room. As the Mass ended, one of the pilgrims started crying. We asked him if he was okay and he assured us that he was fine – he was crying tears of joy. He had been profoundly moved by the celebration of the Mass.
When you think of Lourdes, what do you think of?
We think of Mary and her love for us as our Mother. We think of Bernadette’s courage and faithfulness. We think of the peacefulness of the Sanctuaries. But most of all, we think of the pilgrims. They go through unbelievable hardships on a daily basis. It is tempting for anyone facing challenges in their life to lose hope and turn away from God. However, these pilgrims had faith far beyond any that we have ever seen. It was truly an inspiration to our family.
How has service with Lourdes Volunteers influenced your faith / daily life?
Being of service to others while they are on a special faith journey is a true gift. On our last day, the pilgrims shared their stories. One man stood up and said, “This trip has been the best week of my life.” A pilgrimage to Lourdes changes lives, as God provides healing, compassion and love. As volunteers, we are honored to witness this and are transformed as well.
What would you tell someone considering service with Lourdes Volunteers?
You may think you are going to Lourdes to give to others, but actually, you will receive so much more in return.
In what ways do you hope to continue expressing the Message of Lourdes?
We share the story of Lourdes whenever we can and encourage others to go!