A 99-year-old former school principal is joining 2,000 other people leaving Dublin airport today (Wednesday) as the annual Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes gets underway.
Nora Hawkes, originally from Askeaton in Co. Limerick and living in Rathgar in Dublin has not let her 99th birthday celebrations prevent her from travelling. This is not her first trip abroad recently and one of her family commented that he was “fed up leaving her to the airport”!
Nora happily posed for photos in departures with some of the youngest pilgrims. This year 130 students are travelling to Lourdes from 23 secondary schools around the Diocese.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will lead the pilgrimage for the 16th time as Archbishop. He warmly thanked the hundreds of volunteers who have made this year’s Pilgrimage possible.
“I thank those who come back year after year to support the sick and will be the first to remind us that they return home having gained more than they give. I thank the young people, especially those who are here for the first time. Learn how to place the tenderness that is in your hearts at the service of the sick and bring that experience with you as you prepare for your life and work,” he said. “I thank the doctors and nurses and all those who attend the sick. I thank those who guarantee the smooth running of our pilgrimage and our accommodation.”
10 doctors and 46 nurses have volunteered to help along with 300 young adults between the ages of 19 and 23 and 35 priests and religious will lead 16 parish groups.
172 sick pilgrims will make the journey staying in medically supported accommodation with the support of medical staff and volunteers. Archbishop Martin said of those sick pilgrims making the trip “You inspire us with your faith. Our prayer is that in this holy place you will experience something of that spirit of the Beatitudes and realise how you have a special place in the heart of Jesus.”
Pilgrimage Director for 2019 is Fr. Martin Noone, Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Maeve O’Reilly was the Chief Brancadier is Mr. David Carrigy and Chief Handmaid, Ms. Ciara Murray.
Spiritual Director, Fr. John Gilligan spoke of the Pastoral theme of this year’s Pilgrimage “Blessed are the Poor”. Lourdes he said represented the invitation of Jesus to “come to me all you who are overburdened and you will find rest. “We can’t always rely on our own efforts and strength to ease our pain or relieve our inner poverty. We live in a fast, busy and stressful world, which can take its toll on us. We pray that in Lourdes we will find solace, healing and peace.
99 year old Nora Hawkes smiling at departures in Dublin with two of our youngest pilgrims, Joseph O’ Connell and Kevin Biju from Ard Scoil Rís in Marino.