To all pilgrims and members of the Diocese of Middlesbrough Lourdes Hospitalité family
We are writing to everyone once again to update you regarding the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the impact this has had on plans for this year’s Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
As you will no doubt be aware, many pilgrimages to Lourdes have been cancelled, including, HCPT, PMI (Military), Order of Malta, Unitalsi – the list goes on.
Today we have received the following notification from Lourdes Sanctuary: “In accordance with the decree of the French Minister of Solidarity and Health of March 14 2020 and in the current state of sanitary requirements linked to the COVID-19 epidemic, organised pilgrimages are currently impossible at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, until the situation allows them again.”
There are going to be no winners in this, but I would foresee many losers and I would think the face of Lourdes will change in relation to numbers of hotels and café and bars as the financial impact to the town will be immense.
This state of affairs is unprecedented and has regrettably impacted on our ability to guarantee the safety of our supported pilgrims, youth, helpers, pilgrims and clergy.
This scenario has developed very rapidly on an international scale and changes daily.
With the current regulations in place, both in the UK, which has advised against school international travel, and France, which has banned the gathering of more than 100 people and with certain airlines cancelling flights to specific areas in France.
This makes it impossible for us to proceed with our 2020 Lourdes Pilgrimage. Unfortunately, at this stage the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has still not advised against travel to France, so we have been continually discussing the options we have in view of this situation with our agents Joe Walsh Tours.
In this instance, we have decided to postpone our pilgrimage and reschedule for Friday May 28 to Friday June 4 2021. This will impact on all those who have booked to date for this year’s pilgrimage. For all those who have booked through Joe Walsh Tours, the agreement is to carry forward to next year all the current bookings so there will be no actual financial loss to them
This has been one of the most difficult years for the Lourdes Pilgrimage committee and we have had to make some of the hardest ever decisions. This outcome has left the organising committee devastated, as this year there have been so many deserving cases of people wishing to travel to Lourdes.
These dreams have been so cruelly taken away but no one is to blame, we just have to move forward and plan for a bigger and better pilgrimage next year.
Thank you for your patience and support in these difficult times.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me on email@example.com
Keith Tillotson, Pilgrimage Director