WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Military personnel, including the wounded, ill, and injured, are invited to apply for an all-expenses-paid “journey of healing” to the Marian grotto and bath in the spring in Lourdes, France, during the 59th annual Pèlerinage Militaire International (PMI)—or “International Military Pilgrimage,” 16-23 May 2017.
U.S. servicemen or women currently on active duty, recently retired, or honorably discharged since 9/11, are encouraged to submit an application to the Knights of Columbus (K of C), which, along with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), is co-sponsoring the “Warriors to Lourdes” contingent of the PMI. Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., will cover expenses for approved non-wounded, wounded, ill, or injured warriors, and their designated caregivers. Companions and volunteers are invited to apply at the specially priced rates.
The PMI will bring tens of thousands of troops, veterans, and others from around the world to the famous Marian shrine where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. The pilgrimage traces its historical roots back to World War II. During the War, members of the French military visited the site of St. Bernadette’s apparitions, where they offered prayers for peace. In December of 1944, U.S. military personnel joined British, Belgian, French and Russian military representatives for a Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. After the War, French soldiers and their chaplains invited German soldiers and their chaplains to gather to pray together. The purpose of this initiative was to heal memories and reconcile the past between these former adversaries by recognizing their common identity as Christians in need of peace. The first official PMI was celebrated in 1958.
The Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage amounts to a week-long retreat in which pilgrims take part in an opening ceremony, special Masses, a visit to the baths at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and a candlelight vigil, all of which draw tens of thousands of troops to the sacred shrine every year.
The Warriors will depart either on May 16 or 17, depending on their place of origin. In the U.S., flights leave Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) on Tuesday, May 16; or Dulles (IAD), Seattle-Tacoma (SEA), and Los Angeles (LAX) International Airports on Wednesday, May 17. In Europe, pilgrims will depart Kaiserslautern, Germany, by bus on Wednesday, May 17. All are scheduled to arrive at Lourdes in time for the Warriors to Lourdes Opening Mass.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, said:
“This exceptional opportunity brings pilgrims to the ‘heart’ of the Church to experience the embrace of our Mother. Healing always takes place there. At the same time the presence of representatives of Armed Forces from around the world is an impressive reminder of our common dignity and shared desire for lasting peace. I am deeply grateful to the Knights of Columbus who make it possible for so many to participate.”
Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said:
“The theme of this year’s pilgrimage, which is drawn from the ‘Grant us peace’ prayer of the Mass, is particularly meaningful. It asks for peace among nations, but also for the peace and serenity of heart that only God can give and that is needed by many who have directly confronted war. The Knights of Columbus is delighted to work with the Archdiocese for the Military Services to provide such a meaningful and profound spiritual experience for these brave men and women who have done so much to safeguard our peace.”
Applications will be reviewed by the pilgrimage leadership team and medical director. Each pilgrim package includes lodging, meals, PMI credentials, and, in the U.S., round-trip airfare from Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, Los Angeles, or Washington, D.C. The K of C will book flights from the nearest local airport to the five departure cities for all pilgrims outside those areas. Companions of Warrior pilgrims are invited to attend and may be offered needs-based, financial assistance on a case-by-case basis. U.S.-based and European-based medical and non-medical volunteers are also encouraged to apply. The package rate for companions and volunteers traveling from the United States is $2,600 for a double occupancy room and $2,900 for a single occupancy room; and for those traveling from Germany, $540 for a double occupancy room and $740 for a single occupancy room, including round-trip bus transportation from Kaiserslautern.
Since all pilgrims will lodge in a hotel, the wounded, disabled, or sick warriors must be able to fully perform their “activities of daily living” either alone or with the assistance of their designated caregivers. Potential applicants and their clinical providers should not anticipate that professional medical or nursing services, including hospitalization, will be delivered during the pilgrimage. In addition, potential applicants must be spiritually motivated to participate as a pilgrim.
Applications and payments in full (if applicable) are due no later than January 15, 2017.
Applicants may be contacted by pilgrimage staff with additional questions. All applicants will be notified of their application status beginning February 15, 2017.
To apply for the 2017 Warriors to Lourdes Pilgrimage, click here.
For more information, visit the 2017 Warriors to Lourdes website or contact the Knights of Columbus at 203-752-4270.