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CURRENT ISSUE:  April 25, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 8   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Chrism Mass: Consecration
by oils sets faithful apart

Carnival introduces kids to college at Saint Mary’s
Order of Malta group making
annual pilgrimage to Lourdes

Two days after Easter, about 20 people from the Diocese of Oakland will leave for Lourdes, the French Marian shrine, as part of the Order of Malta’s annual pilgrimage.

They will be part of a contingent of about 340 people from the 11 western states making the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes. Among them will be Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone and Father George Mockel, vicar general.

Special members of the traveling party will be 50 malades (sick) — people who are ill or disabled. Many will be traveling with caregivers or companions. The Knights and Dames cover the cost for the malades; caregivers or companions who go can apply for financial assistance to cover their cost.

The East Bay group will be among nearly 4,500 Knights and Dames of Malta from all over the world traveling to minister to the sick and disabled.

At the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, the Order of Malta Oakland Free Clinic provides medical care to uninsured patients.

After arrival at Lourdes, the traveling party will go to The Domain, or sacred area, for a washing of the feet of the malades ceremony. “This conveys the message: This trip is all about the malades,” said John Christian, president of the Order of Malta Western Association Oakland Location.

During the 10-day journey, Mass will be celebrated at the Lourdes grotto and at the underground church. The able-bodied will be able to walk the stations of the cross. A visit to important places in the life of St. Bernadette will be offered.

Another highlight will be the rosary procession by candlelight. “It’s really moving,” said Christian, who will be making his third pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Order of Malta.

A Lourdes Location Representative in each diocese in which the Order of Malta has a presence identifies prospective malades. There’s an application to complete and a doctor must certify the candidate is able to make the trip. About 150 applicants are solicited.

From that group, a committee invites 50, and a few alternates.

The traveling group met earlier this month for Mass and a luncheon.

The Malta pilgrims will include about 20 teenagers, children, grandchildren and friends of Knights and Dames.

It’s a working trip for the Knights and Dames. “We push and pull carts,” carrying the malades, he said. “It’s very rewarding.”

Lourdes is a small town in the foothills of the Pyrenees, where Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to Bernadette Soubirous beginning in 1858. It has become a major Roman Catholic shrine due to miraculous healings. It draws about 5 million pilgrims a year.

— Michele Jurich

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