LOURDES PILGRIMAGE   Bishop Kevin J. Sweeney poses with a group from the Paterson diocese, including knights and dames of the Order of Malta, during the 66th international pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, from April 30 to May 7. Pictured from left are Karol Corbin Walker; Timothy Potter, chief development officer; Father Philip-Michael Tangorra, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Branchville; Dr. Stephen Fletcher; Brian Fuhro; Cyndy Fuhro; and Allison Ecko. Not pictured but also from the diocese was Dr. Michelle Baron Romans. On the journey, pilgrims accompanied the sick and disabled to Lourdes.

With the Order of Malta, Bishop Sweeney travels to Lourdes on a pilgrimage


Bishop Kevin J. Sweeney traveled with a group of knights and dames of the Order of Malta to accompany the sick and disabled to Lourdes, France from April 30 to May 7. This was the 66th international pilgrimage to France’s Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Pilgrims from 46 different nations visited the well-known sites associated with the Feb. 11, 1858 apparition of the Blessed Mother before 14-year-old St. Bernadette Soubirous.

While traveling, Bishop Sweeney shared the following insights and reflections about this special experience for the Diocese of Paterson’s social media accounts and The Beacon. These photographs were created by Bishop Sweeney, with additional photographs provided by the Order of Malta.

“Greetings and prayers from Lourdes! Today is our first full day. We walked on a pilgrimage to the Grotto, had a talk on the Spirituality of Lourdes, and will have Mass this afternoon. Let us be united in prayer. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.”

“On day two of our Lourdes pilgrimage with the Order of Malta, we had a morning of recollection and we will have a Mass with the anointing of the sick, followed by the famous Candlelight Rosary procession in the evening. We’re thanking God for many blessings, especially good weather. Please keep us in your prayers, as we are and will be praying for you and your intentions.”

“Last night, I had the great privilege and blessing of being able to participate in the well-known/famous candlelight Rosary procession at Lourdes – what a powerful and beautiful experience of “the Church at prayer!” This morning we had Mass at ‘the Grotto’ – the altar is in a small, ‘natural’ cave and just below the niche in the hill where Our Lady appeared and as seen by St. Bernadette. I offered special prayers at the Rosary procession and at this morning’s Mass for all those who have requested prayers and the intentions that I promised to pray for. Let us remain united in prayer as we journey together. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.”

“Happy 6th Sunday of Easter! And to all those who celebrate Happy ‘Cinco de Mayo’! Today, we shared in a beautiful ‘International Mass’ in Lourdes at the cavernous and underground Basilica of St. Pius X, followed by a procession to the Grotto. Yesterday afternoon, we participated in a very prayerful Eucharistic procession. Amongst the many blessings we have received on this pilgrimage, we have been very blessed with beautiful weather! Let us continue to be united in prayer, especially on this Sunday, when we are reminded in the 2nd Reading at Mass (1 Jn. 4:7-10) that ‘God is Love’.”

“On our last full day in Lourdes, we had Mass in the ‘Upper Basilica,’ which has some wonderful and scenic views from its front porch. During a visit to the Grotto after Mass, I passed a statue that I had seen a few times before, but, this time, I stopped to read the sign, describing ‘Bernadette in ecstasy.’ It depicts our Blessed Mother’s final apparition to Bernadette, on July 16, 1858, when Bernadette was prevented from getting physically close to the Grotto, but that was ‘no problem’ for our Blessed Mother. I offered special prayers for all who have requested intentions as I prayed the rosary at the Grotto today. Let us remain united in Prayer.”

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