Diocese of Clogher In-Person Pilgrimage to Lourdes in 2022 will not go ahead due to Covid-19

Following detailed consideration of the Covid situation and having obtained medical advice on its potential impact on pilgrims should the current trends continue – particularly those needing assistance – it has been once again decided to cancel the Diocese of Clogher In-Person pilgrimage to Lourdes for 2022.

The pilgrimage was tentatively scheduled for 8-13 July next, but due to the above considerations, and also the various practical arrangements that must be in place, it has been judged prudent to have the pilgrimage made via online means only this coming year. If conditions allow, some members of the pilgrimage team may make the pilgrimage on a personal basis so that the prayers and needs of people here at home can be brought to the Shrine of Mary.

It is planned to have an in-person pilgrimage in July 2023 and arrangements for that will be made known later in 2022.

Announcing the decision, the Bishop of Clogher, Bishop Larry Duffy, said that while it was regrettable, it was a wise decision in the current circumstances. ‘The annual pilgrimage to Lourdes from the Diocese of Clogher has been a feature of life so many people since the early 1970s. To have to cancel it for a third year in a row is not easy and will be yet another disappointment for many, but it is a wise decision which recognises the persistence of the virus and its impact in the medium to longer-term.’

Bishop Duffy continued: ‘This does not mean that we cannot participate to some extent in the life of the Marian shrine in 2022. The invitation from Mary through St Bernadette for people to come to Lourdes can be realised again this coming year via an online pilgrimage. A small team of people from among our pilgrimage committee, working with clergy and local parishes, have successfully held online pilgrimages – #Lourdes2Clogher – for the past two years and will do so again next July. I invite people in every parish to take part.

‘Over the next three years, the focus of Lourdes will be on the words of Our Lady to St Bernadette in 1858: ‘Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here and that people should come in procession’. This will be broken into three stages. It will allow us to focus on all of the people of God – priests, deacons, religious and laypeople –drawing on our experiences; processing or journeying together to a deeper love of God and an understanding of what the Church is and what it is called to be. It will mirror the synodal pathway that we are on here in Church in Ireland and throughout the world.

‘I invite people to join me in prayer throughout the year for the needs and intentions of all, especially those affected by the pandemic, and to bring these to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes. On our pilgrim journey to God. Mary is our constant companion, showing us her maternal love, especially for the sick and those in any kind of need. This lies at the heart of Lourdes. It is important, therefore, that we keep the spirit of Lourdes, the reality of Lourdes, alive throughout the year so that when we do return to the Shrine of Mary in 2023, we will do so will hearts filled with joy and hope.’

The Pilgrimage Director, Brian Armitage, Lisnaskea, said that the decision was made ‘with a very heavy heart but in the best interests of pilgrims.’ He recognised that many people – regular pilgrims, assisted-pilgrims and Clogher don Óige personnel – would be disappointed but he knew that they would acknowledge the situation faced by the organisers. He hoped that some of the Lourdes team would be able to make personal pilgrimages in 2022, to bring the prayers of so many at home to the French shrine. Mr Armitage thanked all the staff and pilgrimage team for their perseverance and their dedication.

For more on the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes visit 2021 The Lourdes Pilgrimage (lourdes-france.org)