NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Participants in an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, for U.S. active-duty military personnel and veterans assembled 3,000 prayer kits for Ukrainian soldiers.
The “Warriors to Lourdes” pilgrimage May 10-16 drew more than 175 participants and was co-sponsored by the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services and the Knights of Columbus.
U.S. military personnel visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. They attended daily Mass and had various opportunities for prayer, formation and fellowship.
The prayer kits blessed by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who heads the U.S. military archdiocese, and were then shipped to Ukraine for distribution to active-duty and injured Ukrainian soldiers.
Each kit included a rosary, an Our Lady of Lourdes prayer card, a vial of Lourdes holy water and a Blessed Michael McGivney prayer card.
Father McGivney, who was beatified Oct. 31, 2020, was a parish priest in New Haven when he founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 to serve the needs of a largely immigrant Catholic community.
“What began as a small fraternal benefit society has since grown into one of the world’s leading international charitable organizations, with 2 million members in more than 16,000 local councils,” said a news release about the pilgrimage.
The Knights also sponsored a Ukrainian delegation to be part of the Lourdes pilgrimage through the organization’s United in Charity initiative, offering them an opportunity for prayer and healing during this time of war in their nation.
The healing waters of Lourdes draw people from around the world.
The Ukrainian delegation included six active-duty military, four mothers of fallen soldiers, two military officials, two military chaplains and one military bishop.
The “Warriors to Lourdes” pilgrimage allows the Knights as a fraternal organization “to demonstrate its patriotic values through sponsorship of wounded, ill and injured active-duty military and veterans,” said retired Marine Col. Charles H. Gallina, principal coordinator of the pilgrimage.
“Wounded warriors also include those suffering from PTSD. We pray this pilgrimage will bring spiritual support to our wounded heroes on their journeys toward healing and recovery,” he said in a statement.
The theme of the 2022 pilgrimage was “Pacem Meam do Vobis” (“Peace I Give You”).
“During this time of devastating war in Ukraine, the Knights of Columbus have been working to bring peace and comfort to Ukrainian families and military personnel,” said Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly. “We’re honored to have Ukrainian soldiers join us again in Lourdes.”
“Together, especially through devotional prayers to Our Lady of Lourdes,” he added, “we want to bring greater healing, unity and hope to all those affected by this tragedy.”