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placeholder May2: Reflections
on the Pilgrimage

May3: Will we let
God change us

May4: A lesson
from Lourdes

May5: 'Do this
in memory of Me'

May6: Parish church
in Lourdes


After Mass at the beginning of the Lourdes pilgrimage: from left, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, former bishop of Oakland; Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu, a former priest of Oakland; and Rev. George Mockel.

May 2, 2013:
Reflections on the pilgrimage

Some of you may have read the reflections I wrote last spring when I was invited to accompany our former bishop, Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, for the Ad Limina visit of the Bishops to Rome and the Holy See. 
Rev. George Mockel

I know it helps me to be a bit more reflective when I put my experiences in writing, so I hope the readers find my "ramblings" of some value. Warning! This one – covering our pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, with the Knights and Dames of Malta and many of the sick, may be a bit more informational than reflective and perhaps a bit longer.

First, perhaps a little information about the Order of Malta: The Order goes back to the 11th Century. The original members administered a hospital in Jerusalem for sick pilgrims coming to the Holy Land as well as Christian and Moslem residents of the area. This care and concern for the sick has been one of the charisms of the order throughout its history and continues to this day.

The Order of Malta is now in 120 countries and is comprised of 13,500 members, 80,000 volunteers and more than 25,000 medical personnel.

Thus you can see that this annual pilgrimage taking the sick to Lourdes is but one dimension of a whole host of international charitable activities associated with the Order of Malta to include our own Malta Clinic at the cathedral that provides medical services to those without medical insurance coverage.

During this first week of May each year nearly 7,000 members of the order, volunteers and the sick converge on this little village in response to Our Lady's  invitation to come here in procession to pray and do penance. The experience of a pilgrimage to Lourdes confirms for me the basic goodness of so many people, to see them come from all over the world volunteering their time and the gift of themselves to serve and minister to the sick.  We have similar wonderful people in our parishes throughout the diocese who minister to the sick, the home bound and their care givers. My pilgrimage to Lourdes provides an opportunity to be grateful for them and to pray for them at the grotto of Our Lady.

(Father Mockel is vicar general of the Diocese of Oakland.)

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