Oxford and Cambridge University Chaplaincies Lourdes Pilgrimage

Information evening: 10 February 2018

Pilgrimage: 21 to 28 July 2018

An information evening will take place at the Old Palace on Saturday, 10 February 2018, for the Oxford and Cambridge University Chaplaincies Lourdes Pilgrimage.  All members of the university who are interested in coming to Lourdes will be warmly welcomed.

Lourdes is the largest centre of Christian pilgrimage in the world after Guadelupe.  Its origins lie in 1858, when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a humble girl called Bernadette Soubirous.  Our Lady’s message was repentance and prayer.  Among other things: She encouraged St Bernadette to ask the priests to come in procession to the place where she had appeared.  She prompted St Bernadette to uncover a stream and to wash her face in its water, as a sign of humility.  Very soon after these events, a tradition of pilgrimage began, particularly focused on bringing those who are unwell in mind or body to Lourdes.  The sick continue to be the centre of Lourdes, where the worldly order is inverted so that they rank first, served by all.

Our pilgrimage will take place from 21 to 28 July 2018.  There is an option to stay for a retreat day on Sunday, 29 July 2018.  We stay in simple hostels and meet for Mass daily, together with lunch and dinner.  We do not bring sick pilgrims to Lourdes as many other groups do.  We work for the voluntary organization that runs Lourdes: the Hospitalité Notre Dame de Lourdes, described by Pope Benedict XVI as “the arms of the servant Church”.  Women work in the baths (continuing the tradition of St Bernadette washing in the stream), and in hostels used by other pilgrimages.  Men work in the baths, as stewards for the official liturgies of the shrine, and helping pilgrims in transit at the airport and train station.

Coming to Lourdes is an opportunity to serve others in a welcoming community of past and present members of Oxford and Cambridge.  We think that we are doing others a favour.  As so often, of course, it is the Lord who speaks to us through the sick, the stranger, those less fortunate than we are.  Lourdes is not to everyone’s taste, but it may well become for you an indispensable reality check.

We travel to Lourdes by Eurostar at a cost of roughly £200.  Accommodation and meals cost roughly £150.  Bursaries covering 50% of these costs are available to students in genuine financial need.

The information evening will start with Mass in the Oratory of St Thomas More at 6.30pm, followed by supper in the Blue Room.  If you would like to come, please let Fr Matthew know.  Further information can be gained from him or the organizer of the pilgrimage, Simon Johnson, via: lourdesoandc@gmail.com.