Lourdes Pilgrimage goes virtual for Limerick Diocese

Bishop Brendan Leahy

THE 2,000km trip to Lourdes may be denied due to COVID but the annual Limerick Diocesan pilgrimage will continue undeterred this week as pilgrims gather online from today for the second year running.

While organisers say nothing can replace the deep spiritual experience of Lourdes itself, the virtual option is still expected to be enjoyed by large numbers through to Sunday evening.

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With all liturgies across the four days being streamed live and links to same available from www.limerickdiocese.org and Diocesan Facebook, the online pilgrimage begins tomorrow with Mass at 10am, which will be celebrated by Fr Frank O’Dea, Director of the Lourdes Pilgrimage.

Mass will be celebrated on each of the four days at 10am from different locations, culminating with Sunday’s celebration with Bishop Brendan Leahy from Corpus Christi Church, Moyross.

Other celebrations across the four days will take place at 9pm each evening, starting today with Stations of the Cross, led by Críona Horgan, Head of Nursing for the Lourdes Pilgrimage.

Friday evening’s gathering will be Rosary led by Carmel Sheridan, Chief Handmaiden. Chief Brancardier Fr. Chris O’Donnell will lead a celebration of Healing and Reconciliation on Saturday evening, while there will be Evening Prayer and Closing, led again by Carmel Sheridan and assisted by the Pilgrimage Doctors, on Sunday evening.

Said Fr Frank O’Dea, “While nothing compares to being in Lourdes itself and we so look forward to a return, the faithful have taken to online celebrations very well over the last 12 months and more.

“Our virtual Lourdes Pilgrimage last year was very well received and we are expecting more people to join this year.  Pilgrims are invited to send their prayers, petitions and intentions to [email protected] and they will be printed and laid before the altar for each liturgy.

“Pilgrims and, indeed, volunteers get so much from Lourdes so there’s a deep yearning to reconnect again this year and we are really looking forward to tomorrow.” he added.

Said Bishop Leahy: “The pandemic has taken so much from us all and the Lourdes Pilgrimage has certainly been deeply missed by all involved in this very special gathering each year. But as a people we’re incredible adaptable and I know that many are really looking forward to the spiritual sustenance they will get over the coming days.

“We will pray for many things and one of them certainly will be that we are edging ever closer to a safer place and, with vaccinations taking hold now, that we can look forward to returning to some semblance of even a new normal, perhaps even a return to the Marian Shrine in Lourdes in time ahead.”