Tuesday, April 30th – Tuesday, May 7th
“Come and see…”
Dear Fellow Members of the Order of Malta, Auxiliary, and Chaplains,
We are honored and humbled to host the Thirty-sixth Annual American Association Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France from Tuesday, April 30th to Tuesday, May 7th. Our theme and focus for this year’s pilgrimage is “Come and See…” Our theme addresses the difficulty many pilgrims have in trying to describe what the pilgrimage is all about. We do know that the Lourdes Pilgrimage is a different experience for each person who goes and it is also a different experience each time you go. We are reminded of the Gospel story where the disciples ask Jesus where He lives and He answers, Come, and you will see.” So the invitation to the Lourdes Pilgrimage is for you to come and see what it’s like for you.
Those of you who have had the opportunity to travel to Lourdes on pilgrimage know the incredible feeling of love, peace and comfort that is found in the Grotto of Massabielle where Bernadette saw Our Lady in 1858. In Lourdes, we are surrounded by people helping the poor and the sick and bringing them to the feet of Our Lady as we live out the charism of the Order. Those of you who have not been there on pilgrimage will share a life-changing experience. Lourdes is a place of miracles – of mind, body, and spirit.
All pilgrims must have completed a background check and taken the Safe Environment Course prior to approval of their registration. Since there will be minors on the Pilgrimage, it is the Association’s obligation to ensure each pilgrim complies fully with this requirement. Many of you have met this requirement since all candidates are now required to complete the background check and the course when entering the Order. You will be contacted directly if we do not have a record of your completing this course.
There are no vaccination requirements for the Pilgrimage; the charter plane will be leaving from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible since we expect the demand to exceed the capacity for this Pilgrimage. (We understand that another Association was fully booked within a week of the launching letter.) Since there are only three hundred seats available on the charter, fifty pilgrims will be allowed to fly commercially roundtrip to Lourdes. Malades, Caregivers, First Time Pilgrims, Core Team Members and Medical Team Members are not eligible to fly commercially. Full payment will be expected at the time of registration. A “First come, first served” policy will apply to both commercial and charter flight seats.
The cost for Knights, Dames, Candidates, Chaplains (that are not a part of the Core Team), and Volunteers traveling on the charter is $4,000 per pilgrim. The cost for those travelers flying commercially is $3,000. The cost for Auxiliary who will be forty or younger on January 1, 2024 traveling on the charter or commercially is $2,500. There is no cost for Bishops and Cardinals to attend. Commercial travelers are financially responsible to make their own travel arrangements to and from Lourdes and must arrive at the hotel in Lourdes, in uniform, prior to 1:30 PM on Thursday, May 2nd and are not permitted to depart from Lourdes before Tuesday, May 7th, the same day the charter is scheduled to depart.
Priority will be given to the Malades whose vaccination status prevented them from being accepted for the 2023 Pilgrimage. They have been contacted to start the review process. Because of the commitment to those Malades, opportunities to propose additional Malades may be limited. If you would like to propose a Malade, it should be someone you know well and someone you believe would benefit from joining us on the Pilgrimage. Only Knights, Dames, Conventual Chaplains and Magistral Chaplains can propose a Malade.
The Malades-In-Spirit (MIS) Program is intended for those who are ill among us – we will pray for them daily in Lourdes. If you have a candidate for the MIS program, please determine if the person wants to be included in the program. If the person wants to be included, please enroll them in the program.
The pastoral theme for the year 2024 from the Sanctuary is “…and that they should come in procession.” This is the last of three pastoral themes decided upon by the Sanctuary of Lourdes for 2022 through 2024; these themes are based on the words that the Virgin Mary spoke to Saint Bernadette on March 2, 1858: “Go and tell the priests that a chapel should be built here and that they should come in procession.”
We cannot wait to process with you to the Sanctuary – Come and see what Our Lady of Lourdes has waiting for you!
We are so grateful for your prayers for the success and safety of the 2024 Pilgrimage.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for us! St. Bernadette, Pray for us!
Linda A. Kelly, DM and Peter J. Kelly, MD, GCM – 2024 Lourdes Pilgrimage Co-Hosts