The following documents have been prepared ahead of the 2017 Diocese of Middlesbrough Pilgrimage to Lourdes…
Service, Friendship, Celebration, Commitment
Each year the Diocese is challenged to ensure that every participant in the diocesan pilgrimage, especially the Supported Pilgrims staying in the Accueil or individually in hotels, are given the opportunity to fully experience Lourdes, and to be a part of all the services and processions that make up the pilgrims’ day.
Do you think you can help? Give Lourdes a try – share the experience
Men and women of all ages and backgrounds come to Lourdes as volunteer helpers in response to Our Lady’s call. These volunteer-helpers, who are pilgrims themselves, strive to encounter Jesus in each pilgrim, caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Volunteers include doctors, nurses, and non-medical helpers – brancardiers (male), handmaids (female), musicians and youth.
The purpose of pilgrimage is to grow in faith while making a visit to a place made holy by a sacred event that took place there. As pilgrims, it is often while away from our everyday life and routine that we experience a deepening relationship with God.
Being a volunteer at Lourdes is both a profound experience and an extraordinary privilege and we all share in that experience. As a volunteer, or helper, you are first and foremost an active pilgrim at the service of other pilgrims. Just as Bernadette was accompanied and welcomed at all times, we in turn should know how to welcome and accompany pilgrims, especially those who are sick or disabled.
All healthcare professionals are welcome for example; Doctors, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Emergency care practitioners.
Our team of nurses consists of qualified nurses in current registration and retired nurses with valuable experience along with health care assistants. Qualified nurses in current registration with the Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) will be responsible for such things as the administration of medicines, assessing and planning care for our supported pilgrims. Nursing students can also work as volunteers in Lourdes and a reflection of this unique experience of holistic care could be included in their portfolios.
Male helpers (or “brancardiers”, an old French term for “stretcher bearer”) are involved in a range of duties and are primarily called on to support the pilgrimage with practical action. Duties often include the more physical and active tasks, but there is also an important social aspect to our care, and often it can make a real difference to one of our VIP’s lives by simply sitting down and talking to them. Whatever your level of physical ability, there is a role for all.
The Handmaid’s role is multifunctional and covers many areas. You may not wish to take on all the duties but only those you feel comfortable and competent with and that is absolutely fine. During our week on Pilgrimage Hand- maids will work on a Duty Rota within a team working alongside other Hospitalité members. Our primary role is to look after the wellbeing of the supported sick pilgrims to ensure that they are treated with respect and consideration. We help with all aspects of our supported pilgrims’ social care needs. Help with the washing and dressing of our supported pilgrims where necessary. Spend time listening and talking to our supported pilgrims (not a duty but a privilege), Lay tables and serve meals to our supported pilgrims in the restaurant (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
The spiritual needs are so important to our supported pilgrims they may wish you to accompany them to the Grotto or stations.
Most of our helpers work primarily with supported pilgrims from our own diocese, who stay in the Accueil, or “place of welcome”, which is a purpose built modern building, opened in 1997, for accommodating supported pilgrims.
All volunteers are required to do a mandatory training session every year and will require a DBS certificate. During our week on pilgrimage to Lourdes friendships are made in a moment and last a lifetime. Please consider becoming part of it. All Lourdes volunteers travel and stay at their own expense.
Do you think you can help? Volunteers are always welcome!
Contact Keith Tillotson Executive Director of the Diocesean Lourdes Pilgrimage who will answer any questions you may have. Please call 01642 324043.