‘It’s a pity that the pilgrimage is already over again’

'It's a pity that the pilgrimage is already over again'

Lourdes/Würzburg (POW) The pilgrimage of the diocese of Würzburg with bishop Dr. Friedhelm Hofmann to Lourdes has come to an end. The response of the participants is consistently positive.

John C. Ndimbo, bishop of the Tanzanian partner bishopric Mbinga: "I am very grateful that Bishop Friedhelm invited me to this pilgrimage of generations to Lourdes. I would never have dared to hope in my wildest dreams that I would come here once in my life. The days in Lourdes were very inspiring and very interesting. I celebrated on 5. June the sixth anniversary of my episcopal consecration. The pilgrimage is a good opportunity to look back with gratitude, and at the same time, trusting in the intercession of Mary, to present and entrust my worries and challenges to God. It was great for me to meet so many fathers, mothers and children as well as priests from all over the diocese of Würzburg. Many knew Mbinga so far only by hearsay, now they know at least me as a face from Tanzania. What I learned: The church in Europe may be getting smaller in numbers. But it is very lively. This can be seen in the 300 children and young people from Würzburg who take part in the pilgrimage, but also in the many young people from all over Europe who pray and receive the sacraments here in Lourdes. Faith is deepened and carried on here. It was also a good experience for me to see the good things that the permanent deacons do. I will encourage in my home bishops' conference to ordain permanent deacons as well. These can relieve the few priests we have with their charisms and training. And one last thing: The organization by the Family Federation of Catholics and the Marriage and Family Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Würzburg was perfect and great from start to finish.

Anja Geis from Wargolshausen (district of Rhön-Grabfeld): "The days in Lourdes were simply powerful. The bishop has very fresh at the services. Preached without a manuscript. That was rousing. Has touched inwardly. The "Ave Maria" song from Lourdes is a real catchy tune. I have always felt part of a real community here. It was really funny to see that practically everywhere in the city there were people with the orange pilgrim scarf. It was important for me to consciously leave out something from the official program in order to do something on my own. I went to the castle with my son Leonard. During the candlelight procession it was great to see people from very different countries praying and singing together, also in very different languages."

Leonard Geis from Wargolshausen (Rhön-Grabfeld district): "I thought it was super. The services were beautifully arranged. For young people, yes, there was a separate program, which was made very exciting. For example, we once laid a large mandala. The excursion to the meadow near Bartrès and the church service we celebrated there was also an experience. The way back through the mountain landscape to Lourdes was very beautiful."

Anton and Sieglinde Schobert from Haßfurt: "We have now been to Lourdes for the fourth time in total. This pilgrimage of the diocese was perfectly organized. There was a lot of program, but there was never any agitation"

Markus and Jutta Emmerich from Oberbessenbach (Aschaffenburg district): "The train ride was a real experience in any case. We liked the program, but there could have been a little more offers for the very young ones from us. It was nice that the bishop was always in the middle of things and therefore easily approachable. The children immediately got an autograph on their pilgrim scarf."

Cäcilia Schneider from Fuchsstadt (Bad Kissingen district): "Those were very beautiful days in Lourdes. I have been on a soldier's pilgrimage to Lourdes before with my husband, who was a professional soldier. Most important for me was the bath in the water of the spring of Lourdes. The anointing of the sick in the church of St. Bernadette also touched my heart. I have been in the grotto several times. The 17 and 11 year old grandchildren who accompanied my husband and me also liked it very much. The 11-year-old didn't want to come along at first, for fear that he would have to go to church too often. But at the end he said: 'It wasn't that bad, we only went to church once every day.'"

Maria May from Althausen (Bad Kissingen County): "The procession of lights was just great. I also liked the cohesion among the pilgrims. My husband, my daughter, my son and my grandson took care of me, so that I had no difficulties even in a wheelchair."

Joachim May from Althausen (Bad Kissingen district): "Here, everyone has shown consideration for the others. The togetherness in the hotel was so pleasantly different from other vacations, where everyone elbows out and thinks of themselves first. I find it a pity that the pilgrimage is already over again. Here you felt carried in prayer every day. The whole trip was a logistic masterpiece – a dream."

Bernhard Estenfelder from Karbach (Haßberge district): "Actually, there were too many highlights on this pilgrimage to name individual points. My father was often in Lourdes. Now I have also made it here. The experience of fellowship is also unforgettable. The church services were very varied, so that there was something for everyone."

Barbara Estenfelder from Karbach (Hassberge district): "At lunch, the bishop once sat with us as a matter of course. We had a very pleasant conversation with him."

Arno and Anja Pohli from Zeilitzheim (Schweinfurt district): "It's great to be on the road with so many like-minded people. There you can meet quite openly. Talking about faith as a matter of course. It makes you feel like a fish in water. What was particularly appealing about the program was that there were alternating offers in both large and small groups and even a special program for children, young people and adults. In the end, we could become repeat offenders (laugh). It was great that the hotels were all so centrally located and therefore the distances were short, but also that the sick were integrated as a matter of course."

Nicole Müller-Englert from Würzburg: "I learned a lot about the life of St. Bernadette. God deliberately chose her, who was not a highly educated theologian. Someone cerebral would probably not have understood the events of the apparition. I would like to see the natural community with the sick and disabled in everyday life as well."

Christian Englert from Würzburg: "It is beautiful to see how many young people are here together in faith. This simply creates an atmosphere in which you can talk quite freely and without constraint about what moves you. By the way, I have the most respect for the mammoth organization of this pilgrimage.

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