Appeal for Lourdes assisted pilgrims and volunteers

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Appeal for Lourdes assisted pilgrims and volunteers

A strong Diocese of East Anglia contingent is joining the Catholic Association pilgrimage to Lourdes in August, the first fully assisted pilgrimage since before the pandemic, and is appealing for assisted pilgrims and volunteer helpers to join it. Diocesan Director, Dcn Huw Williams explains.

Each year in August the Diocese of East Anglia joins with the Catholic Association on a pilgrimage to Lourdes.  In 2023 it is from August 18 to 25.

Pilgrimages to Lourdes began after the Virgin Mary appeared in a series of 18 apparitions to a poor 14 year old girl, named Bernadette Soubirous. The apparitions took place in a Grotto on the banks of the river Gave between February and July 1858. 

During the ninth apparition ‘the beautiful lady’ told Bernadette to go and dig in the dirt in the corner of the Grotto where Bernadette found the spring which is the source of the Lourdes water even to this day.

During the 13th apparition Our Lady told Bernadette to: ‘Go and tell the priests that the people are to come here in procession, and they are to build a church here.’  Pilgrims visit Lourdes in answer to this request.

All are welcome and all have an important contribution to make to the community that we form during our pilgrimage week.

Assisted Pilgrims and Volunteer Helpers

The Catholic Association Pilgrimage (CA) is responsible for coordinating the welcome and care of our ‘assisted pilgrims’ – those on our annual pilgrimage to Lourdes who have particular care and support needs.  

For our pilgrimage in August 2023, the CA is appealing for everyone to invite any friends, family members or fellow parishioners who might want to come to Lourdes as an assisted pilgrim, or as a volunteer helper in order to help provide the support that our assisted pilgrims need.

Assisted Pilgrims

Our assisted pilgrims can choose to stay in either a hotel with some basic support given by volunteer helpers (such as wheelchair assistance in getting around town or to services), or in the Accueil Notre Dame, where medical and personal care is provided. Our assisted pilgrims are very much at the heart of our pilgrimage, and we welcome anyone interested in coming to this beautiful place in the picturesque Pyrenees.  In addition, financial help may be available through your Diocesan/Group Director.

The CA Pilgrimage also includes the Glanfield Children’s Group. Since 1987 the group has travelled to Lourdes with many children with learning difficulties, as well as chronic and terminal illness each year. Full details of the work they do can be found on our website.

Volunteer Helpers

Men and women of all ages and backgrounds come to Lourdes as volunteer helpers to answer Our Lady’s request for people to ‘come in procession’, but more importantly they come in response to the command of her son Jesus to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31). These volunteer helpers, who are pilgrims themselves, strive to encounter Jesus in each pilgrim, caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. The Catholic Association Hospitalité includes doctors and nurses as well as non-medical helpers, who are known as brancardiers (male) and handmaids (female).

The minimum age for helping is 17 and there is no maximum age. If you are aged 17-25, you can be a part of the Young Helpers’ Group (a supervised group staying in a separate hotel).

For those helpers with children, the CA offers the Helpers Children’s Programme (HCP). The HCP offers a range of activities for the children of our volunteer helpers.  Many of our volunteer helpers who are parents find that this gives them the flexibility they need during the week to work with our assisted pilgrims. HCP is open 08:30 – 12:00 and 14:00 – 18:00 most days of the week.

For more details contact:


mobile: 07399 163 718 (please leave a message).

Read our previous story on this topic below.

Bishop Peter to lead August pilgrimage to Lourdes