United States Marine Corps Master Sgt. Ryan Leach, a member of Knights of Council 4083 in Tuscaloosa, AL, shared the following after returning from Lourdes France earlier this week. Learn more about the program at the Warriors to Lourdes website.
I just returned from the annual Knights of Columbus Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage. It was a trip of a lifetime and I appreciate the planning and sponsorships that allowed me to participate. Every year the Knights of Columbus sends a U.S. delegation to Lourdes on a pilgrimage and also to participate in the Pelerinage Militaire International (PMI), which is a multi-national pilgrimage that involves approximately 12,000 people from 50 countries. Many nations, many languages, one faith and one prayer for peace. Lourdes is a truly amazing place to experience. We were able to receive the sacraments, wash in the water from the spring where Our Lady told Saint Bernadette Soubirous to wash, pray the Rosary with thousands of soldiers during the nightly candlelight procession, attend the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Grotto with the other English-speaking nations and participate in the many PMI activities. The comradery with the other nations was amazing. We were able to pray the Stations of the Cross while climbing the hill with the life-sized replicas at each station. I learned about the amazing events that happened in Lourdes in 1858 and now I can see why over five million pilgrims a year visit the Sanctuary at Lourdes. The PMI in Lourdes was established in 1946 to promote reconciliation and peace after World War II. Every year since, for one weekend in May, Lourdes has become a place of prayer and healing for active duty members and veterans representing more than 50 nations.
Since 2013, the Knights of Columbus has worked with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, to sponsor the annual Warriors to Lourdes Pilgrimage. The event allows non-wounded, wounded, ill or injured military personnel, together with their designated caregivers and volunteers, to travel to the Marian shrine during the PMI for a time of rest, prayer and healing. It was an honor to be chosen to represent the United States and to be part of the U.S. delegation. I was even able to carry the statue of Our Lady during the candlelight procession. It doesn’t get any better than that! Thanks to my fellow Knights for their support and I would encourage all veterans to consider applying in the future.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for Us!
MSgt Ryan Leach, USMCR