What are your plans for this summer? This is not an official CM event, not a Lourdes-planned event. No travel agency connections - you book your tickets and arrange travel, dates, etc. BUT, it's very doable and great opportunity to meet some fellow english speaking Catholics and do Our Lady's work!!!! This is the best 'vacation' you could imagine
I'm in the process of planning my third "esatge" for the Hospitalité Notre Dame de Lourdes in France. It's a pilgrimage, but so much more. Each year more than 6 million people visit Lourdesin hopes of physical and spiritual healing. Many are able-bodied laity, religious and priests. However, thousands upon thousands are sick or disabled. These pilgrims stay at the Accueil Notre-Dame, a sort of hotel-hospital, where each bed has an alarm bell and each unit has a doctor on call. All their needs are provided for by approximately 8,500 volunteers that offer their time to Our Lady and those that need assistance. As they say: At Lourdes, the sick and elderly are king.
It is typical for a volunteer estage to last between 7 and 15 days, and many volunteers return each year (though the latter is not an obligation or commitment). It is also common for volunteers to return at roughly the same time each year so that the become extremely close friends with the other members of their Service. I am a member of St. Joseph's Service and each summer my responsibilities are:
-reception of sick pilgrims at the station or airport on arrival and departure and transferring them to and from the centres where they are accommodated
-organisation and marshalling of ceremonies maintaining an orderly and prayerful atmosphere at the Grotto
-welcoming all pilgrims at the entrance to the Baths helping pilgrims who make their Act of Faith through the Sign of Water inside the men’s baths
Each person is placed in a service, depending on gender and the grotto's needs, and each service has different responsabilities. My service is largely responsible for heavy lifting :) The various Services are found here: http://en.lourdes-france.org/hndl/services
I usually make my estage between the end of June and the beginning of July. This year I am endeavouring to start my estage on Saturday, June 22nd. I would love to introduce you to the Hospitalité. If you're interested in Notre Dame deLourdes generally or if you would like to volunteer at the same time this year as I do, please contact me. It's hard to explain how wonderful Lourdes is and the service more specifically. I actually get butterflies when I think about being there and I can wholehearted say that I don't think there is anything else I would rather do each summer.
So if you're interested, please send me a message and maybe we can make plans as a group.
In Christ through Our Lady of Lourdes,