More than 500 U.S. military-connected pilgrims take part in three-day international spiritual journey
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) and the Knights of Columbus (K of C) are celebrating the success of American participation in the recent 55th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. According to Dr. Mark Moitoza, AMS Vice-Chancellor of Evangelization, more than 500 U.S. military-connected pilgrims made the Memorial Day weekend pilgrimage May 24-26. Their numbers included active-duty and retired service personnel, wounded and disabled warriors, spouses and family members. Dr.Moitoza said approximately 160 registered by way of the “Wounded and Disabled Veteran Pilgrimage” package co-sponsored by the AMS and the K of C.
The pilgrimage provided participants with connections to the militaries of 35 nations. It was a time for healing, both spiritually and physically, in the serene setting and sacred waters of the grotto. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the opening Mass for the American contingent on Friday, May 24 in the Upper Church of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
In his homily, Archbishop Broglio said:
“Our pilgrimage in these days is also a time for us to deepen our faith. We come to this wonderful Shrine with many intentions. For some it will be health of mind and body. For others it might be part of a vocation search. Still others ask the Virgin for blessings on their families. We come to this sacred place and pray for all of those deployed in harm’s way and we beg Our Mother to intercede with her Son so that the world might experience that peace that only He can bring.”
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, participated in the pilgrimage and noted:
“The Knights of Columbus organized its first military pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1919, and we were honored to return to this important Marian shrine supporting this pilgrimage of faith by our active duty and retired troops who have sacrificed so much for our country. The great love that these service men and women have for God and country sets a wonderful example for all of us who have benefited from their sacrifices in the protection of our freedom.”
Dr. Moitoza said:
“The theme of the 55th International Military Pilgrimage was ‘Lourdes, A Door To Faith In The Year Of Faith.’ Men and women in uniform, from around the world, engaged in Eucharistic adoration, the celebration of Masses, processions, and hospitality. These all served as reminders that the door of faith is indeed open. The narrow streets of Lourdes were filled with the sounds of marches as military bands and units passed by. Each evening the expressions of fraternity spilled out into those streets as soldiers exchanged stories and laughter. The desire for peace was evident among those in different uniforms from various countries who strive every day to attain that goal while living their call as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Through the intercession of Mary these military pilgrims prayed together for the hope of peace. In this Year of Faith the International Military Pilgrimage provided true insight into what indeed that hope looks like.”
The pilgrimage was well attended with representation from 35 countries from around the world. More than 20,000 pilgrims attended the closing Mass on Sunday, May 26 at the Basilica of St. Pius X.
About the Knights of Columbus (K of C):
Founded in 1882 by the Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, in New Haven, Connecticut, the Knights of Columbus is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity.
Seeing the temporal and spiritual needs of his parishioners, Fr. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus to meet those needs by engaging in charitable activities within the community and protecting the faith and financial stability of Catholic families.
The history and growth of the Knights shows how the foresight of Father Michael J. McGivney, whose cause for sainthood is under consideration at the Vatican, brought about what has become the world’s foremost Catholic fraternal benefit society.
Many of the first members of the Knights of Columbus were Civil War veterans, and the Knights has long been committed to helping those who serve our country. In World War I, the K of C ran hospitality centers for U.S. troops throughout the United States and Europe under the banner “Everybody Welcome, Everything Free.” In World War II, the Knights of Columbus in Canada continued the army hut program, while in the United States, Supreme Knight Matthews served as a Catholic representative on the board of the United Service Organizations (more commonly known as the USO), through which the Knights continued to serve troops.
Today, the K of C works closely with the AMS in its continuing work for our troops and veterans with a variety of activities geared toward their spiritual and temporal needs. From its humble beginnings in New Haven, the Knights of Columbus has grown to more than 1.8 million members worldwide. Always a strong force for charity, last year alone Knights set new charitable records donating more than $158 million and 70 million hours to charitable causes.
About the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS)
The AMS was created as an independent archdiocese by Pope John Paul II in 1985 as the only Catholic jurisdiction responsible for endorsing and granting faculties for priests to serve as chaplains in the U.S. military and VA Medical Centers.
AMS-endorsed priests serve at more than 220 U.S. military installations in 29 countries, making the AMS the nation’s only global archdiocese. AMS-endorsed chaplains also serve at 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the U.S.
The AMS service population also includes American Catholic civilians working for the federal government in 134 countries, but currently, due to limited resources, the AMS cannot adequately serve this population.
Worldwide, an estimated 1.8 million Catholics depend on the AMS to meet their spiritual and sacramental needs.
For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, visit www.milarch.org, the only official Web site for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, M.M.