19 Jun 2013

Limerick Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes Cancelled - UPDATED

It was with great sadness this afternoon that the announcement was made to cancel the annual Limerick Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes for this year due to flash flooding causing massive disruption and the death of two elderly people in the town of Lourdes. This is the second time within 12 months that the town has been inundated with flood waters as La Gave de Pau river burst its banks swollen from melting snows and excessive rains in the Pyrennes. It is understood that it is the first time in the history of the pilgrimage that the diocese has had to take this measure.

Congratulations to the cyclists who had completed their fundraising cycle and arrived in Lourdes ahead of the main pilgrimage but now face the dire situation along with the people of the town. But for most people associated with the pilgrimage, the main disappointment will be for les maladies (the invalids) who are the centre of attention for the entire week of the pilgrimage many of whom had been looking forward to this for over a year.



Live cam of the sancturies in Lourdes HERE.

From Limerick Diocesan website:


Limerick Diocese has today, with regret, confirmed that the 2013 Lourdes Pilgrimage, scheduled to depart from Shannon Airport on Friday, June 21st and return on Wednesday, June 26th, has had to be cancelled due to flooding in the Lourdes area.

Canon Donal McNamara Director of the Limerick Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage said: We are really disappointed to have to take this decision as we know just how much pilgrims, invalids, volunteers, all of us were looking forward to their time in Lourdes and the enormous work that has gone into to arranging the pilgrimage.

However, the Lourdes area has been absolutely devastated by what appears to have been unprecedented flooding, which has tragically also claimed the life of one person in the region and led to the evacuation of 200 people.

Hotels, including the one the Limerick Diocesan Pilgrimage was booked into, are without electricity today; the Sanctuaries are closed apart from the Upper Basilica Grotto and the clean-up operation will take days.

With the safety and comfort of our pilgrims and volunteers in mind, as regrettable as it is, we were left with no decision but to cancel the Pilgrimage.

Added Bishop Brendan Leahy: "Our prayers and thoughts are now with the people of the Lourdes and pilgrims and invalids, including the many Irish who were so looking forward to this trip.

Pilgrims will be given a full refund of monies they have already committed to the pilgrimage.

Bishop Leahy will also celebrate 5.30 Mass at St. Josephs Church on Sunday for the intentions of all the pilgrims and invalids. All are welcome to join in this celebration.
Families of all youth pilgrims who would have been travelling with the Limerick youth pilgrimage are being contacted directly by youth leaders.




UPDATE:

Images from the damage to the underground Basilica of St Pius X



UPDATES 2:

New York Times article

BBC

The Irish Times

The Irish Independent

Reuters

Catholic Herald

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