By Cian Molloy - 05 September, 2019
More than 2000 people are taking part in the annual Dublin diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, among them a well-travelled 99-year-old.
Younger pilgrimage members include 130 students from 23 secondary schools from around the Dublin Diocese, some 300 young adults belonging to parish groups, 172 pilgrims who are sick, 46 nurses, 10 doctors and 35 priests and religious.
For the 16th year in a row, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will lead the pilgrimage and, once again, he thanked the hundreds of volunteers who make the pilgrimage possible for those who are elderly, who are suffering from an illness or who have a disability.
“I thank those who come back year after year to support the sick and will be the first to remind us that they return home having gained more than they give,” he said. “I thank the young people, especially those who are here for the first time. Learn how to place the tenderness that is in your hearts at the service of the sick and bring that experience with you as you prepare for your life and work.”
The 74-year-old Archbishop also thanked medical and nursing staff and volunteers for helping guarantee the smooth running of the Dublin diocesan pilgrimage, which is the biggest Irish pilgrimage to Lourdes each year.
I thank the doctors and nurses and all those who attend the sick. I thank those who guarantee the smooth running of our pilgrimage and our accommodation.”
To those who are making the pilgrimage while not in good health, the Archbishop said: “You inspire us with your faith. Our prayer is that in this holy place you will experience something of that spirit of the Beatitudes and realise how you have a special place in the heart of Jesus.”
The oldest pilgrim in the party, Nora Hawkes, was very much looking forward to the venture. Despite being nearly 100 years old, she is a regular traveller, so much so that her family joked yesterday that they were fed up leaving her at the airport.
Originally from Askeaton, Co. Limerick, Nora now lives in Rathgar. She was pictured at Dublin Airport with two of Dublin’s youngest pilgrims, Joseph O’Connell and Kevin Biju from Árd Scoil Rís, Marino.
This year’s pilgrimage director is Fr Martin Noone, the chief medical officer is Dr Maeve O’Reilly, the chief brancadier (French for “stretcher bearer”) is David Carrigy and the chief handmaid is Ciara Murray. The diocesan pilgrims will return to Dublin on Monday 9 September.