LIMERICK Diocese has confirmed that its Lourdes 2021 pilgrimage has been cancelled on medical advice.
Confirming the decision, Bishop Leahy said that while there is great hope of winning the fight against COVID-19 with rapid advancements on vaccines, there is still not the certainty required in terms of protecting the health of pilgrims to allow arrangements be made for the June 2021 event at this juncture.
However, the diocese will put a programme in place to ensure that pilgrims will be connected online – starting with a Mass for Deceased Pilgrims next Monday, November 30th. He said that other opportunities will also be explored in line with public health advice at the given time next year.
Said Bishop Leahy: “We are all very hopeful that there is light ahead in relation to the battle against COVID-19. We would hope that come next June, when the pilgrimage typically would be held, that there will be a roll-out of vaccines but the arrangements for this have to be put in place now and we just cannot run the risk that it will ultimately be safe for pilgrims to travel.
“Assisted Pilgrims are typically those who would be most vulnerable to COVID-19, the people we have been asking the public since last February to do all it can to protect in the pandemic. We simply do not have the certainty needed now regarding successful vaccine roll-out by June to put the necessary arrangements in place now.
“The Lourdes Pilgrimage is a very special week in the year of the diocese. Over 500 people from the diocese join this every year and among that group is a 100 plus contingent of young people, who bring incredible enthusiasm and liveliness to the trip.
“It is a wonderful coming together of generations in a very special week of spirituality and no small amount of fun. It is something we all look forward to every year so this has been a very difficult decision. It is one we have considered very carefully and that has been really governed by medical advice.” he said.
Bishop Leahy, however, said that a programme will be put in place to ensure the ‘Lourdes family’ will stay connected up to and during the month itself, starting with a Mass for Deceased Members of the Pilgrimage, which will take place on Monday 30th November at 7.30 p.m. This mass will be streamed online through the Limerick Diocese website (www.limerickdiocese.org ).
“Sadly, we have one more year to wait until we gather again and head off on this special event. We look forward to that time and would like to take this opportunity to once more ask people to do whatever we can to keep COVID out in the interim.”