Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Diocese in Lourdes

For one week each year several hundred people from the Lancaster Diocese travel to Lourdes for the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage. The week includes a full programme: Mass each day, the processions, opportunities for prayer, the anointing of the sick, confession, stations of the cross, the rosary. This year the pilgrimage was led by Bishop Campbell, a frequent visitor to Lourdes.

The weather was glorious for most of the week - perhaps a little too hot at times! Above, a few of the pilgrims are gathering to pray the rosary together on the meadow over the river from the Grotto.

A familiar sight on the pilgrimage is the youth section. Over 100 young people - a diocesan record - travelled this year, easily recognisable in their blue tops. They work throughout the day, helping the sick pilgrims and those who rely on wheelchairs to get around this undulating town. In the evenings they had time for prayer and socialising. Above they are seen beginning the stations of the cross, which is made up of life-size figures.

At the end of the week Bishop Patrick joined the pilgrimage, travelling directly from the World Youth Day in Sydney. Above he is pictured with Fr Phillip Conner, the Director of the Diocesan Youth Service, who has had a busy summer! Fr Phillip also travelled from Sydney to be in Lourdes for the last days of the pilgrimage.

Here the Bishop is seen with two of the diocesan seminarians (trainee priests), Fr Phillip and our own Fr Andrew.

The end-of-pilgrimage party gace the seminarians a chance to show off their skills at entertaining the pilgrims! The pilgrimage gives a great sense of the whole Diocese being represented: bishop(s), priests, deacons, sick pilgrims, the youth, seminarians... it seems that everyone is represented. Lourdes itself gives a great sense of the Church gathered for prayer. Tomorrow's post focuses on one of the most obvious examples of this: the international Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Campbell.