Going to the Lourdes grotto, without leaving South Jersey

Going to the Lourdes grotto, without leaving South Jersey

Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

Parishioners of Holy Family Parish, Sewell, pay attention as Lourdes volunteers take them on a virtual tour of the grotto with a multimedia presentation.


lourdesgrotto2-webSome 250 parishioners took a virtual pilgrimage to Lourdes in France last week, as part of a special night at Holy Family Parish in Sewell, honoring Mary and her appearance to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.

The virtual pilgrimage on Thursday, Feb. 17 was led by Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American volunteers, a public association founded in the Syracuse Diocese “to extend the invitation of the Immaculate Conception as given to Bernadette in the Grotto at Lourdes; to serve the sick and suffering at Lourdes and at home following the loving example of St. Bernadette in simplicity, humility and obedience.”

To this end, the volunteers share Lourdes’ message with parishes, schools, prisons and hospices throughout the United States.

The 90-minute virtual pilgrimage included a spoken narrative and slideshow of the life of Bernadette, a young shepherdess whom Mary appeared to at Lourdes; her footsteps through Lourdes; and her relationship with the Blessed Mother, who directed her to an underground spring of water, now famous for the miracles it has bestowed on pilgrims in need of healing.

During the slideshow presentation, worshippers at Holy Family, which included those using canes, walkers and wheelchairs, blessed themselves with water from Lourdes and were allowed to take some of it home with them. As well, the faithful also left handwritten petitions with the volunteers, who promised the requests would be taken and left in the grotto at Lourdes, and prayed a decade of the rosary.

At the end of the evening, Father Robert Hughes, pastor of Holy Family, gave a final blessing.

The program was “spiritual, uplifting and moving,” said Holy Family parishioner Domenic Renzi, who said there are plans to bring the Lourdes volunteers back to the parish for another pilgrimage at a future date.

Every year, 6 million pilgrims from around the world visit Lourdes and bathe in its grotto.

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