Well I think everyone is home now safely despite some delays for the flights and some of the coaches from Lille. It seems to have been a very successful pilgrimage except for the various delays to the journey. We are looking at various options for next year to do all we can to try and avoid delays and provide as smooth a journey as possible whether your chosen way of travel is by air or overland. We are of course in the hands of those who provide our flights, coaches, trains etc. I would welcome any constructive thoughts about travel as we try to plan for 2018.
I first of all want to say a huge “thank you” to all our doctors, nurses and volunteers as well as our musicians for all you did to ensure that this year’s pilgrimage was a great success. I would particularly thank those who stayed up into the early hours on our first night (many after a long journey themselves) to ensure that our VIP’s were settled into the Accueil as quickly and smoothly as possible.
We were blessed with good weather this year which I think really helped us especially with the processions and grotto Mass. I have had so many positive comments from pilgrims who (apart from the travel problems) found the Pilgrimage very well organized and a really moving and spiritual experience. That is thanks to you who give so generously of your time and enthusiasm; so “thank you” again!
Our thoughts are already turning to next year and we are considering a number of possibilities to help our journey. At this stage I would emphasise that these are only thoughts and no decisions have been taken but I would value your own thoughts and reactions. In recent years more and more of our VIPs have flown until this year when practically all of them flew. Each VIP requires varying amounts of assistance at the airport and especially boarding the plane. Inevitably this can take a long time and is often one of the main causes of delays. In the not too distant past only VIP’s who did not require assistance flew all others travelled overland where there are plenty of volunteers to help and doctors and nurses to care for them on the journey. We are considering reverting to this in the future. For the overland journey we are also looking at leaving the Diocese earlier in the day so that we can arrive in Calais around midnight. We would then join a chartered TGV for Lourdes. That would mean that the train journey would provide the opportunity for undisturbed sleep and we would arrive in Lourdes early that morning. If we can get more people to choose the overland journey we can bring the costs down significantly. If you travel independently please consider joining the Pilgrimage for the overland journey; another 50-100 people on the train would make an enormous difference to the price and all pilgrims would benefit.
I look forward to hearing any constructive comments you have to make about these ideas. They are just thoughts and I am not even sure at this stage they are possible. I am anxious that we do all we can to ensure the smoothest possible journey for everyone, especially our VIPs so your thoughts and ideas would be welcome and valued.
Fr David Long
We are always pleased to hear from any doctors or nurses who would like to join the pilgrimage medical team. For more information please contact Fr David Long, the Pilgrimage Director, through this address or on 0161 480 2489.