Types of Service
Special Needs Pilgrimage Service Available each June and October
Special Needs Pilgrimages are an invitation to the ill, elderly, handicapped or special needs pilgrims and families to visit Lourdes accompanied by both lay caregivers and medical volunteers in service as:
- Caregivers – assist with personal care needs including bathing, toileting, dressing and feeding.
- Companions – provide caring family and friendship during travel; offer dining assistance and daily share the pilgrimage experience.
- Medical – plan and provide supportive care for special needs pilgrims throughout travel and stay.
- Brancardiers – provide both transfer and transport services daily throughout pilgrimage.
- Handmaidens – provide dining room, hospitality and housekeeping assistance.
- Youth – offer junior handmaiden, brancardier and companion services in a catechesis program.
Caregivers, companions and medical volunteers travel with the Special Needs Pilgrimage.
Brancardiers and handmaidens travel with our Advance Volunteer Team…
Join the A-Team
In addition to volunteers traveling with each Special Needs Pilgrimage, an Advance Team of volunteers is necessary to bring the sick and suffering to Lourdes. North American Lourdes Volunteers coordinates an Advance Team of volunteers and provides these volunteers with formation, orientation and training in service to our Special Needs Pilgrimages.
The Advance Team arrives two days prior to prepare for the arrival of the pilgrimage and extends their stay for inventory, material storage and to disinfect the hospital-like facility utilized by the pilgrimage.
Advance Team responsibilities during pilgrimage include:
- Transportation Service (wheelchair/voiture assistance)
- Dining Room Service (set up, serve, clean up)
- Hospitality Service (provide coffee, tea, Lourdes water for consumption, supplemental dietary items, and assistance to pilgrims)
- Housekeeping Service (cleaning rooms of pilgrims including making beds and cleaning bathrooms)
Schedule varies depending on assignment.
Pilgrimage Medical Team
As a member of our Pilgrimage Medical Leadership Team you will accompany pilgrims with a variety of special needs providing supportive care to ensure they enjoy a comfortable, safe and meaningful pilgrimage experience. The needs of the pilgrims are evaluated prior to the pilgrimage by the Pilgrimage Medical Director and Head Nurse in coordination with the pilgrimage directors and the pilgrimage manager. The pilgrimage medical team assesses and provides supportive care in travel and while on pilgrimage.
All medical volunteers are required to:
- provide an up to date medical license
- attend Virtus or Safe Environment Training provided by their home diocese
- take an oath to embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church with respect to the sanctity of human life
- submit a letter of recommendation from a pastor or priest
- attend three webinars via the internet prior to departure
Service to the Sanctuaries
All medical professionals are invited to join the AMIL, the Lourdes Medical Bureau, and receive their designated pin and three annual publications for a modest fee. All practitioners are requested to register upon arrival for possible consultation at the request of the Medical Director at Lourdes.
Licensed physicians and nurses are invited to offer one week of service at the walk-in emergency medical station in the Sanctuaries assisting pilgrims requesting medical care at the on-site facility; multi-lingual skills are beneficial, but not required.
Youth & University Service
Lourdes Youth Volunteer and Catechesis Program
Learning, Living and Loving the Message of Lourdes Through Service
Each June North America Lourdes Volunteers brings youth, ages 14-17, to serve our Special Needs Pilgrims from the United States who journey on pilgrimage to Lourdes, France.
Our pilgrims could not come to Lourdes without the service and assistance of the youth.
Youth volunteers offer junior service with our Advance Team to support the Special Needs Pilgrimage. Service duties include: dining room, housekeeping tasks, hospitality, transportation for all outings to masses, processions, tours and visits as well as the final clean out.
Youth volunteers pray with and for our pilgrims as a daily part of their service through the Rosary, Eucharistic and Rosary Processions and visits to the Grotto.
Youth Chaplain and Catechist provide daily catechesis developing the Message of Lourdes through the sacraments. Our youth are LEARNING the Message of Lourdes in daily catechesis modules, LIVING the Message of Lourdes in Service to the pilgrims and LOVING the Message of Lourdes in their time spent in Lourdes.
Orientation and training begin as soon as our youth arrive in Lourdes. Training lessons include: What is Service, All Service Begins in Prayer, How to Approach our Pilgrims, Dining Room (set up, serving, clearing, clean up, manners), Housekeeping (making beds, cleaning floors and bathrooms), Hospitality, Transportation (wheelchair, voiture, brancard), as well as bending, lifting and hand washing.
Each youth receives a drawstring backpack with a set of 6 t-shirts. Specific color shirt is worn each day, tied to our catechesis and sacrament of the day. These provide us with group recognition – for us to locate our youth and each other as well as for the Sanctuaries to identify our youth – as well as modesty!
We maintain a 1:4 ratio for the entire pilgrimage Each youth group must provide chaperones, adults who know your youth. Chaperones are “hands on” and fully participate in all aspects of our youth pilgrimage.
We stay in humble dormitory style Sanctuaries housing. Private showers and toilets are available on each floor. The facility is located in a pastoral, tranquil setting, providing our youth a quiet and peaceful place for rest at the end of the day.
Breakfast is taken at our accommodations while lunch and dinner are eaten at the self-service volunteer cafeteria. The cafeteria offers a different selection daily.
All Youth are expected to fully participate every day in catechesis, service assignment, prayer, catechesis task, pilgrimage transportation and any other service as assigned.
Pre-Pilgrimage Webinars for Chaperones & Leaders
Participation is required to ensure that all chaperones and leaders have received Formation to include the Charism of North American Lourdes Volunteers, the Message of Lourdes, the spirituality of St. Bernadette, the significance of service to our pilgrimage, the meaning of service and serving where needed.
Forms and Requirements
Each youth volunteer must complete/submit the following items: Application, Registration, a recent photo, priest letter of recommendation and passport copy. Chaperones must complete all the above mentioned and additionally sign a Youth Leadership Protection Policy and Safe Environment Training Verification Form.
Code of Conduct and Dress Code
All participants must follow the code of conduct and dress code as provided.
Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Lourdes: Stage Service
Hospitalité is the association, founded in 1885, of volunteers worldwide who come to
offer volunteer service to the pilgrims of Our Lady of Lourdes through the Sanctuaries
This international team of 8,000 lay volunteers offers assistance in the baths, at the train station, in the Sanctuaries and supporting sick or disabled pilgrimages at either of two specialized Accueil hospital-like facilities in Lourdes each year.
Volunteers who join Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Lourdes are invited to serve annually. After five years of service and training (Formation), volunteers are invited to to confirm their commitment to Our Lady of Lourdes in a consecration at Holy Mass. At this time, they receive this sacramental insignia silver medal on a blue and white ribbon.
Hospitalité volunteers must be capable and in good health, between the ages of 18-75 and willing to offer six consecutive days of service.
Two half days of Formation and hands-on training are provided by Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Lourdes.
Hospitalité Service is available from Holy Week to All Saints Day each year.
St. Joseph Service for MEN
All male volunteers are assigned to this service as a “brancardier” (stretcher bearer). Each brancardier is assigned to a 5-7 man team for the service week. The team is assigned to varied tasks each day that include:
- Welcome and transfer of stretcher and wheelchair-bound pilgrims at the train station and airport
- Transport of pilgrims to the Accueils
- Maintain prayer and order on the platform exterior of the Piscines (Baths)
- Bath attendant in the Men’s Piscines
- Crowd management at Eucharistic and Candlelight Processions
St. Jean Baptiste (The Women’s Piscines)
The piscines are the baths of Lourdes where pilgrims come to bathe in the spring water from the Grotto. Piscinieres (attendants) have the profound privilege of working intimately with women and children who come to experience the baths by covering and assisting pilgrims during undressing and dressing to maintain modesty and by assisting pilgrims in and out of the baths.
Piscine service is physically, spiritually and emotionally demanding. Bending and lifting are required.
The Accueil Notre-Dame and The Accueil Marie Saint-Frai (Housekeeping)
Accueil is French for a place of welcome. The sick and disabled are housed and cared for in these special facilities during their pilgrimage. The Accueil Notre-Dame offers 950 beds; the Accueil Marie Saint-Frai offers 450 beds for special needs pilgrims. Accueil handmaidens have the privilege of offering much needed humble service behind the scenes. Accueil duties afford limited interaction with pilgrims. Returning volunteers can offer other duties, such as a shift in the Piscines or assisting the Sacristan, floral arrangements or embroidery.
Daily duties include housekeeping, kitchen and dining room services. Schedule varies daily, often meal-time shifts of 1-2 hours, 2 or 3 times per day.