The 2019 Lourdes Pilgrims from the extended Boston Area gathered together on Saturday morning April 13 at St. Sebastian’s School for Mass and an orientation session. On Monday night earlier in the week, two conference calls took place. The first call was for malades and caregivers to review the logistics of the pilgrimage. The second call was for all other pilgrims from the Boston Area including veterans and first-timers.
Upon arrival on Saturday morning, warm greetings were extended to all at the front door of St. Sebastian’s School. Everyone made their way up to the chapel for the 8:30AM liturgy. The Very Rev. Brian Kiely, Rector at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston served as the presider at the morning Mass. Drew Donahue, a long-time friend of Fr. Kiely’s said that one message in the homily that really hit home was about “offering suffering for others, gives suffering meaning and purpose!” One of the student nurses from Laboure College, Jillian Donovan, enjoyed the mention that “God loves us as a caregiver and we can place our burdens with Him.” Maureen Bleday, in formation, served as lector, and Mary Jo Kriz, DM shared the prayers of the faithful. Prior to dismissal Area Co-Chair, Nancy Gibson led the group in reciting the Daily Prayer of the Order. Prior to dismissal, Fr. Kiely then provided a beautiful blessing for all pilgrims.
After Mass, the group moved downstairs to the McColloch Room on the second floor. We paused for refreshments pulled together by Nancy Gibson, including hot coffee, juice, water, bagels, fresh fruit, yogurt, etc. Every one had a chance to say hello and catch up a bit. Fr. Kiely joined us as well. We are so grateful to Bill Burke, Headmaster at St. Sebastian’s and Fr. John Arens, Chaplain and religion teacher for all their help and gracious hospitality!
Everyone sat down in the room and introductions were made all around among malades, caregivers, veterans, first timers, Knights, Dames, Auxiliary, a volunteer student RNs. Each attendees provided a bit of background on themselves, including mention of their home parish, where they live now, how they heard about Lourdes, how many times they’ve been, as well as a number of very touching stories, and finally hopes for the journey! Past pilgrims shared stories from their first visit to Lourdes with the Order of Malta.
Near the end, we took time for each person to reflect and then share on the meaning of this year’s theme: “Come To Me and Rest In My Loving Embrace.” A sampling of the replies….God is always calling…God’s tender arms…giving it all to God….God is present and we can surrender…leaving the worries to him…how Our Lady holds us in her loving embrace…a time to let go of outward responsibilities, focus on helping others, and drawing closer to God!
Then we closed the gathering with a prayer and heartfelt intentions for others. The attendees used these words to describe the morning: beneficial, informative, welcoming, spiritual, comforting, intimate, warm, invigorating, togetherness, ready, friendly, uplifting, inspirational and hopeful!