A letter to all in Our Pilgrimage Family at this continuing time of Covid 19 Pandemic
I write to you on behalf of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, President of our Diocesan Pilgrimage and on behalf of the Pilgrimage Committee.
It is sadly with regret and disappointment that we have no option but to postpone our 2020 Pilgrimage to Lourdes until 2021, due to the Covid 19 Pandemic.
We are all very aware that government and health authorities both in Ireland and France have placed restrictions on the movement of people and have introduced physical distancing as a means of reducing the spread of the virus.
A number of you are presently on the front line engaged in one way or another in caring for the sick and the dying or in keeping other essential services going. It would be unfair to ask that you would volunteer to care for the sick on pilgrimage in September. The sick pilgrims who travel with us each year are at the heart of our pilgrimage (our V.I.P.s). As many of them would be so vulnerable to infection the risk is far too great at this time.
Confidence in air travel and hotel accommodation in general has been considerably eroded and in such circumstances it would be difficult to put a core pilgrimage together. Indeed it would be reckless to try and build a pilgrimage in these uncertain times as so many factors are outside of our control.
It has to be said as well that the Sanctuary in Lourdes remains locked until at least 31st August in adherence to French Government regulations and the closure may continue beyond that date.
It is in the light of these and other considerations but especially in the interests of health and safety for all our pilgrims that this decision has had to be made.
The Executive Committee of United Irish Pilgrimages to Lourdes (UIPL) has reflected too on the current situation with the leadership of all those pilgrimages who travel to Lourdes in August/September and the clear consensus is that there is no other option but to postpone our diocesan/religious order pilgrimages and reschedule for agreed dates in 2021.
The scheduled date for the Dublin Pilgrimage is 7th to 12th September 2021.
It is hoped that we may be able to put a “virtual” programme of Masses and other events together during those days when we should be in Lourdes (9th to 14th September) and the Pilgrimage Committee, in consultation with the Archbishop, will be considering such a programme over the coming months.
Please join with us over the months ahead in continuing to pray for each other and remembering those from amongst us who are working on the front line and in essential services. We think too of those from within our “Pilgrimage Family” and from our own family/friendship circles who have died and those struggling in one way or another because of the Pandemic. We remember the young people of our Pilgrimage and especially those who were due to sit Leaving Cert exams at this time. Let us trust in our loving God, seeking our Blessed Lady’s help and protection and the intercession of St. Bernadette.
May we be kept safe and so be able to look forward to planning for Pilgrimage 2021.
Fr. Martin Noone