Boston area Order of Malta prepares for Lourdes pilgrimage

BOSTON -- On April 22, Boston area pilgrims making this May's Order of Malta American Association pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, gathered at St. John's Seminary in Brighton to prepare for the trip. Msgr. James Moroney, rector of the seminary, hosted the Lourdes pilgrimage orientation meeting, which included an opportunity for the pilgrims to meet and greet one another, the celebration of the Liturgy, a presentation by Msgr. Moroney on thoughtful ways to prepare spiritually for the pilgrimage, a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session.

Msgr. Moroney, who is a chaplain in the Order of Malta and making his first trip to Lourdes, said it was inspirational to meet so many of the pilgrims.

"We were delighted to host the pilgrims at St. John's," he said. "I know for some a trip such as this is not easy, and I look forward to sharing part of their spiritual journey with them."

This year, the American Association invited Craig and Nancy Gibson, longtime members of the order who are very active with the Archdiocese of Boston, to co-chair the pilgrimage. The theme this year is "Our Mother Mary, Full of Grace."

Damien DeVasto has been chair of the Boston area of the Order of Malta since 2013.

"Having worked with Craig and Nancy for many years, we knew what a great choice they were to chair the 2017 pilgrimage for the American Association," DeVasto said. "The visit to Lourdes is a wonderful way for our members to further our mission of serving the sick while nurturing their own spiritual wellbeing."

The purpose of the pilgrimage, which takes place from May 3 through 9, is to give people who are ill, known by the French term "malades," the opportunity to experience the healing waters and a range of other spiritual activities that take place during the week. The malades each bring a personal caregiver, and both malade and caregiver travel free of charge. They are accompanied by knights, dames and auxiliary members of the order; medical professionals; and clergy.

Like Msgr. Moroney, many of the clergy are chaplains within the order. This year, five bishops, led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, are making the pilgrimage. Members of the clergy are given a variety of formal assignments throughout the week, from celebrating the many Liturgies, including a Mass for the anointing of the sick; leading the eucharistic procession and adoration; facilitating reflection groups; hearing confessions and taking part in other events. They also provide individual spiritual counseling.

Lourdes is where, in 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, revealing the healing waters. Since then, 69 official miracles have been attributed to bathing in or drinking the water at Lourdes as well as to participating in the eucharistic procession and adoration.

"The pilgrimage provides an opportunity for those of us making this journey to undergo a grace-filled conversion of heart, bringing us closer to God," said Craig Gibson. "While we often are praying for a healing of the body, we also seek a change, a transformation, a healing of the spirit."

Jack Best, 76, a malade making his first pilgrimage to Lourdes, reflects that attitude. A native of Dedham, he now lives on Cape Cod. Jack, who has undergone chemotherapy for cancer, has a blood disease and is going to be immersed in the waters. However, he is also bringing intentions for the wellbeing of members of his family, who have experienced a series of medical and other issues. "I've known about Lourdes and the healing waters for a long time," he said. Asked what his expectations were of the trip, Jack said he didn't have any. "What God wants to give me he will give me. I will follow whatever he wants me to do."

In addition to the St. John's orientation, the pilgrims participated in a conference call April 10 with the Gibsons as well as other leaders from the Boston area. The conference call covered the logistics, from meeting at JFK Airport in New York and boarding the chartered plane to what to expect upon arrival in Lourdes. At the airport each malade, along with his or her caregiver, is assigned to one of seven color-coded teams, each of which includes knights, dames and others.

Throughout the week, the team members serve the malades and caregivers by bringing them to the daily liturgies, the baths, the Marian candlelight procession, the eucharistic procession and adoration and other spiritual events. Some of the malades travel in voitures, single-person carriages that are pushed and/or pulled by the team members.

"Witnessing the strength of these pilgrims, who, despite the challenges of their daily lives, are determined to make the most of what Lourdes has to offer, reminds all of us of our own blessings," said Nancy Gibson.

Sister Rosemary Rese of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Somerville, which provides a home for low-income seniors, is travelling as a caregiver with one of the residents. Margaret, who is in her mid-80s, is coping with the infirmities that come with age, and both she and Sister Rosemary plan to be immersed in the waters. Sister Rosemary has never been to Lourdes but said her 95-year-old mother went 25 years ago and every day prays the prayers she said going into the baths.

"As a Little Sister of the Poor, care giving is a part of my life," Sister Rosemary said. "I'm delighted to be accompanying Margaret as she experiences the graces of Lourdes. We will be surrounded by people from around the world who are all seeking some special grace from Our Lady."

More than 60 pilgrims from the Boston area will be part of the group making the trip from the American Association, bringing the total participants to more than 400 people. While the Boston area has always been well represented, this year's Boston area participation is at an all-time high, almost double the typical turnout.

The American Association is one of three regional associations making up the order of Malta in the United States, and all three associations will be sending pilgrims the same week. A Catholic, worldwide, lay, religious organization, the order's mission is to nurture, witness and protect the faith and to provide assistance to the poor and suffering. It operates in more than 120 countries. This is the 32nd annual pilgrimage to Lourdes for the American Association.

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...