Torchlight procession – Photo by Joe Harrison
May, 2020
Diocese Prepares For ‘Virtual Lourdes Pilgrimage’

Click here to download our 2020 Virtual Pilgrimage Program

Catholics from across the diocese are preparing for a “Virtual Pilgrimage” to Lourdes after their annual visit to the French shrine was cancelled.

Bishop Terry and other clergy will lead a programme of online services from Saturday May 23 to Thursday May 28 at around the times their various liturgies would have been taking place.

Hundreds of people have been taking part in a 16-day Walk of Hope from Middlesbrough to Lourdes, “walking” around 65 miles each day through England and France by each adding anything from 100 yards up to a few miles to a running total.

Their progress has been charted in the pilgrimage’s Facebook group, which has 800 members, in a journey that also included daily prayers, nostalgic photos of the previous 66 pilgrimages, personal testimonials about the impact Lourdes has had on people’s lives and live-streamed recitations of the Rosary every evening.

Each year since 1953, hundreds of people from the diocese, including many sick and elderly people who are cared for in a special hospital, have visited the site where Catholics believe the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette 18 times in 1858.

Helpers, including a team of doctors and nurses, give up their holidays and pay their own flight and accommodation costs to be part of the pilgrimage.

But when this year’s plans were postponed after the shrine was closed to pilgrims due to coronavirus, Lourdes regulars quickly turned their disappointment into something very special.

The 2020 Lourdes theme of “I am the Immaculate Conception”, echoing Mary’s words to Bernadette, was used to inspire the Walk of Hope, with each day focusing on a different apparition.

“In normal times we would currently finalising preparations to travel on pilgrimage to Lourdes,” said pilgrimage director Keith Tillotson.

“Unfortunately, the world we find ourselves in today is anything but normal. Despite that, it’s been wonderful to see hundreds of people enjoying travelling with us on our virtual journey to Lourdes, where I believe Heaven and Earth are closest.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to all who were involved in the preparation and journey. It was a truly amazing experience, a real sign of Lourdes being lived right here at home among our wonderful Lourdes family.

“We are now ready to begin our Virtual Pilgrimage, so I hope you all continue following us each day as we share in a spiritual way with our supported pilgrims who are unable to take part in the pilgrimage in the way we had all hoped.

“Let’s continue to make this a very special experience where we continue to support one another and pray alongside one another as we look forward to the day when we can be together in Lourdes once again.”

The week-long programme, which begins with the opening Mass at 4pm on Saturday May 23,includes services streamed from Hull, Redcar, Whitby and York, as well as two shared services with the Archdiocese of Birmingham, who are usually in Lourdes at the same time.

Pilgrims will also use technology to recreate the famous Torchlight Marian Procession, which usually takes place each evening, and party night, when musicians and entertainers will take turns to stream live from their homes.

To join the Virtual Pilgrimage, search Facebook for “Middlesbrough Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage and Hospitalité”.

After the Virtual Pilgrimage, Bishop Terry will celebrate a national Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Middlesbrough for NHS and key workers, which will be live-streamed across the country at 7pm on Thursday May 28.

“Let’s continue to make this a very special experience where we continue to support one another and pray alongside one another as we look forward to the day when we can be together in Lourdes once again.”

Keith Tillotson, Director


Prayer of consecration to Mary 

I Choose You Today, Mary, in the presence of the angels and saints of heaven, for my Mother and Queen.

I consecrate to you, in obedience and love, all that I am, all that I have, and all the good that I may do, putting myself and all that belongs to me entirely at your service, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls

Act of Trust in Mary (Family of Our Lady of Lourdes)

Blessed be God, our Father
for having created Mary so beautiful
and for having given her to us as Mother
at the foot of the Cross of Jesus.
Blessed are You for having called us,
like Bernadette,
to see Mary in Your light
and to drink from the wellspring of Your Heart.
Mary, you know the misery and the sin of our lives and the life of the world.
We want to trust ourselves to You today,
totally and without reserve.
From you we will be reborn each day
by the power of the Spirit.
We will live the life of Jesus as little servants of our brothers.
Teach us, Mary,
to bear the life of the Lord.
Teach us the “yes” of your heart.

Hail Mary (Ave Maria) 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Salve Regina

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, Hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: To thee do we send up our sighs, Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus,
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.


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