1,300 pilgrims have returned to the Archdiocese of Liverpool following the 80th Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to the French Shrine. Two special flights landed at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport after carrying their passengers homeward, while others including the 500 young people who have been working in Lourdes, were returning overland.
The leader of the pilgrimage was Bishop Tom Williams, Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool, on his return he said:
'Its true to say that there were a lot of smiling eyes on the journey home following a truly prayerful and very well organised week. There was great support for our pilgrims whilst in Lourdes and especially from our young people who, as always, worked so very hard with the sick. Our return gives us an opportunity to reflect on much generosity during a wonderful week.'
In his Pastoral Letter for this Sunday Archbishop Patrick Kelly speaks of the 'joy, music and life' that, although weary, the returning pilgrims bring in contrast with those on conventional holidays. He says:
'I know on Friday there would have been the story of two cities, two worlds, two patterns of worship: it was at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport: one lot: all tired limbs, but shining eyes: sore backs but laughter in abundance: home from Lourdes: from service, self-giving, patience, communion with the living God. By contrast so many arriving from other, probably much sunnier places where wheel-chairs were not to be seen. But with weary eyes, loud voices, claiming to have had a good time but despite so much effort put into satisfying what they wanted, still joy, music, life, absent so sadly for many.'
During the time of the pilgrimage many 'at home' in the Archdiocese kept in spiritual touch by praying the daily novena and Services of Anointing were held in many parishes.