Why did you first decide to join us on pilgrimage?
In the summer of 2016, our family had planned to visit Lourdes, Fatima, & Spain but we got a phone call from a physician friend asking for help in their Medical Mission. When we declined telling her our plans on the same date, she exclaimed, “Perfect! The Medical Mission will be at Lourdes.“ When we declined again stating that our trip plan was to be with our kids, she replied, “No problem, your kids could go as youth volunteers. Mama Mary is calling you!” How could we say no to that?! So our whole family joined the June 2016 Special Needs Pilgrimage.
What has been your favorite aspect of service?
We were all given the opportunity to participate in ways that we could tap our given gifts and abilities. This helped us understand that no matter how simple or how complicated our roles were, it was still an opportunity to grow in confidence as children of God.
Mira was too young to be in the youth volunteer group and thus felt left out while tagging along with us in the Medical Clinic. She cried complaining, “Why am I even here? What’s the point of coming to this trip?” Immediately, the staff found her a perfect job.
Favorite memory of Lourdes?
Daily mass, rosary processions recited in different languages with lights, catechism, and serving God’s people.
When you think of Lourdes, what do you think of?
Spring of sacred water from Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception (which we had learned there from Pam & Fran during our catechism). We learned a lot about God, Mary, our faith, and how to pray.
The people we served, whom we have learned to love, touched our hearts deeply that the memory of them will stay in us forever.
How has service with Lourdes Volunteers influenced your faith / daily life?
We learned humility, experienced love, and practiced compassion. God made us realize in this trip that the world is not all that bad after all. Even suffering is not all evil. There are still so many good people around, and this gave us hope knowing we are not struggling alone to keep our faith alive. We also learned that we could help one another to become saints with the help of Our Lady and St. Bernadette.
What would you tell someone considering making pilgrimage with Lourdes Volunteers?
It is an experience of a lifetime yet once would not be enough. The desire to return is so strong that we say, “We left our hearts in Lourdes”. We felt at home. Lourdes is so peaceful that we felt secure in the presence of our loving Heavenly Mother.
In what ways do you hope to continue expressing the Message of Lourdes?
Retell our amazing stories from this trip over and over to everyone and encourage them to join us next time in this pilgrimage.
Anything else you wish to add?
As for our family, it was our best bonding time ever. We stayed together, prayed together, learned together, worked together, and grew in faith together. For the kids, it was not all work for they had lots of fun too. Mira even requested, “Mommy, when I become a teenager, may I come back as a youth volunteer like my brothers?”